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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Schooling Not Matching Our Students

I have posted entries in the past about student learning styles and how instruction, and virtual instruction, needs to cater to (or at least consider) these differing styles (see These New Students of Our's for the latest of my thoughts on this idea, and The Committed Sardine Blog has an interesting perspective on this too at Millennials Rule The Web). In any regard, I am reading a number of entries lately that are discussing things other than learning styles that are affecting the students that we currently have, and will continue to see, in our K-12 school system.

For example, Pupils Must "Look Away" To Think at The Committed Sardine Blog discusses recent research that indicates that students who are not looking at the teacher or the book or the whiteboard may not be actually daydreaming, but may be carefully considering the topic - and in fact may be able of this careful considerations without physically looking away.

There have been a number of entries that have talked about how the way in which we have our schools set-up, in terms of start and end times, may be counter-productive to the sleep and thinking patterns of students, particularly teenagers (see Schools Waking Up To Teens‚ Unique Sleep Needs at The Committed Sardine Blog and Sleepy teens at joannejacobs.com).

There is also recent research that indicates that how we have looked at the way the brain works in recent history may be incorrect (see Is the mind like a computer? Evidence that it is not at elearnspace).

There are even people talking about the priorities that both parents and students have these days. The busy kids at Number 2 Pencil is an excellent example how even the priorities of school-ages children and their parents are not focused upon what goes on inside of the classroom.

I raise all of these issues, as they are seemingly unrelated, except in one way - they all speak to how the nature of our traditional schools are not set-up in a way to effectively serve the students of the third millennium. My question is how does virtual schooling fit into this picture?

The story of high school junior Domenic Pontoriero in Online or in the classroom? - Susan Thomas, US Oracle (from Online Learning Update) is a good example of how virtual schooling can be used to facilitate tha transition to these new realities for the students of today. Stories like this may be the reason we see the growth in virtual schooling (see my own entry on New Virtual Schooling Programs, along with new items such as H.S. Students Study Calculus via Distance Learning - Georgia Institute of Technology , More S.D. students taking classes online: Increasingly, lecture halls are losing out to Internet - RANDY HASCALL, Sioux Falls ArgusLeader, and High schools offering online college courses: Worth the work - Tracy Frank, The Forum all from Online Learning Update; Idaho Virtual Academy Awarded Accreditation From Northwest Associate of Accredited Schools, Students leave top-rated schools for online charter programs, and Vote favors virtual school all from Distance-Educator.com's Daily News; and Students prefer online courses from Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes).

Is virtual schooling the answer? Is this a way to replace sme or all parts of the traditional school day for these students? Can it be used as a supplement for some students, but not all?

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