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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

What Are Virtual Schools For?

I came across this shortly after my last entry. It appears that Danielle Strachman at HeightenedLearning has taken up the call before I even issued it. In her entry on virtual schools (see http://heightenedlearning.blogspot.com/2005/05/virtual-schools.html), she states that:

As a tool to enhance education, Virtual Schools offer students an outlet for learning on their own and a resource to parents looking to outsource certain areas of study.

On the other hand, I do not believe that Virtual Schools should serve as the sole outlet for a child's education. The only person who should serve as the sole outlet is the child.

While not quite answering the call of "Are virtual schools the panacea for an ailing public educaiton system?," Danielle has certainly come down on the side of virtual school as one tool, as opposed to virtual school as a sole means to deliver education to a child.

As a Canadian, where most of our provinces do not have progressive homeschooling legislation (at the time I left, my province for example requires that the child be under the supervision of a certified teacher, even in a homeschooled situation), I wonder if this isn't shortchanging virual schooling based upon a single constituency. Going back to my real interest in virtual schooling, in many instances virtual schooling is the only way that a rural secondary student is able to access highly specialized courses from a teacher who is a subject matter expert in that area (in the case of my province, this tends to be Chemistry, French, Mathematics and Physics - although our virtual high school is branching out into other speciality areas such as Art and Music).

But this also goes back to a question that I had for those involved in the homeschooling movement some weeks ago (see Online Learning for Who? and Who Are Virtual Schools For?) I argued that in many of the specialized areas (such as AP courses) are beyond the ability of many parents of homeschooled students to support in a way that maintains the academic rigour of these courses. If this argument holds water, and please comment on whether or not it does, wouldn't having these specialized courses delivered by a virtual school be a wonderful outlet for the homeschool student's education?

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