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Friday, May 06, 2005

Online Learning for Who?

Last month The Christian Post ran an article entitled "Online Education Changes Traditional Homeschooling" (see Monday, Apr. 11, 2005 edition or http://www.christianpost.com/article/technology/568/section/online.education.changes.traditional.homeschooling/1.htm). In my last entry earlier this week, I referenced a post to the DASO Blog entitled "What About At Risk Kids Online" (see http://www.elearningcorridor.org/blog/2005/04/what-about-at-risk-kids-online.html).

About five weeks ago, I posted an entry about who is the main audience that we should be designing virtual school opportunities for (see http://mkbnl.blogspot.com/2005/04/who-are-virtual-schools-for.html). That entry was focused upon things that I read in other blogs (the ones I referenced were Althouse's Virtual High School, Snooze Button Dreams' Virtual School, Kimberly's Number 2 Pencil's Surf the web, earn an A, and Joanne Jacobs' Online classes for all).

The basic premise of the entry was twofold. The first aspect of the post tried to address the basic question: who are virtual schools designed for? As you may know, I firmly believe that it should be for students in rural schools who are disadvantaged because their schools aren't able to attract teachers qualified to teach specialized courses or they simply don't have the enrolment figures to justify allocating a teacher to so few students. However, (as I mentioned in that entry) the legislature here in Georgia has decided that not only will the publically-funded, state-wide virtual high school cater to students in the public system, but will also be available to students in private schools and homeschooled students (free of charge). The four entries that I based that last entry on were mixed in their feelings about homeschooling and virtual schools.

In the second aspect of the post, I argued that in many of the specialized areas (such as the AP courses offered by the Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Association) are beyond the ability of many parents of homeschooled students to support in a way that maintains the academic rigour of these courses and that virtual schools are a great way for these parents to be able to continue to have their children outside of the public school system, but have access to the specialized content-area expertise that these teachers bring to virtual schools.

Given that there wasn't a great deal of discussion on this the last time around, and the new items that I included in the first paragraph above, I ask once again:

  1. Who are the main audiences that we should be developing virtual high schools for?
  2. What is/should be/can be the role of virtual high schools in the education of homeschooled students?

Looking forward to hearing your comments...

Tags: , , homeschool, ,

2 Comments:

Blogger Drethelin said...

I think the purpose of online public school curriculum is for people who want to learn on their own schedule, or can't or don't want to go to a public school. My parents, for example, are pretty paranoid, and I go to an expensive private school simply because they don't want me in any of our public schools.

5:17 PM  
Blogger MKB said...

Drethelin,

Okay, fair enough... But what about the fact that the fastest growing aspect of online K-12 education comes from the virtual charter school movement? Now being a Canadian, I'm not as familiar with these beasts as many Americans are. I understand that in many instances it allows parents and other groups to create publicly funded religious-based schools (essentially circumventing the separation of church and state - something else we don't have in Canada).

But given the fact that this is the fastest growing aspect of online K-12 learning opportunities, it doesn't really match with your comments.

I guess what I am driving at is this, do we want to provide opportunity for those to learn at their own pace? Do we want to provide opportunity to people who don't have access to that opportunity? Do we want to provide opportunity for religious-based instruction outside of the public school system? Or some combination of these (and many other purposes)?

I guess I am concerned that until we can figure out why we are doing it, I question the money being spent to simply do it.

MKB

6:27 PM  

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