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Monday, December 26, 2005

Requiring Virtual Schooling

Well, things are happening in Michigan... Over the past few weeks the Michigan Virtual High School has been accredited by the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (see Michigan Virtual High School Earns Accreditation). And not only have they been accredited, but there are talks that the state will require each and every high school student to complete at least one online course prior to graduation (see Michigan Considers Requiring High-School Students to Take at Least One Online Course, High-School Students to Take at Least One Online Course, and Online ed for all).

This is an interesting development, as Michigan is the first state in the US to consider this requirement. As one of the largest virtual schools in the US, next to the Florida Virtual School and the Virtual High School. This move would bring the United States one step closer to a goal outlined in the National Education Association report titled Guide to Online High School Courses (see http://www.nea.org/technology/images/02onlinecourses.pdf), which stated "It is estimated that by 2006, a majority of high school students will have had an online course before graduating” (Fulton, 2002, p. 1).

Before we consider whether or not this will become a reality, we should first consider whether or not this should become a reality. Do we really want all of our students to enroll in an online course simply because they are available to them? I have often argued that the purpose of virtual schooling is to allow students who would not otherwise have certain educational opportunities access to those opportunities. There are others who have argued that virtual schooling is a way to allow students to get experience with the style of learning that will become the norm for the lifelong learning that they will be exposed to for the remainder of their lives. If this second statement is dominant view of virtual schooling, then it would serve those students well to require at least one online course prior to graduation.

Fulton, K. (Ed.). (2002). Guide to online high school courses. Washington, DC: National Education Association. Retrieved on October 2, 2004 from http://www.nea.org/technology/images/02onlinecourses.pdf

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