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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

VSS2007 - Student Panel

I'll be honest and state that of all the Virtual School Symposiums that I have attended, this is the first time that I have attended the student panel, so this was new for me.

There were four students, one young lady was in grade six and the other three students were high school students. They had a variety of experience, from students who were taking their first virtual school course to one young lady who had taken half dozen or more AP courses over her high school career.

Many of the students indicated that they were taking virtual school courses because the courses simply weren't offered in their school. One young lady was pursuing a career in modeling and being a virtual school student allowed her to travel for further her career, but still be a student in the state. The grade six student had already skipped one grade in her academic career and instead of skipping a second grade, the virtual school courses allowed her to stay with her student colleagues and simply supplement her learning at a higher level online.

One of the students mentioned that her online courses have taught her discipline and organization, two of the other students mentioned that they have gained a great deal in the way of technology skills because of their virtual schooling. The youngest panelist was quite a witty young lady and even at the age of eleven or twelve was able to give the standard answer to the question, with the charm of a child... blah, blah, blah, etc... :)

The same young lady read this little essay that she wrote about what her vision of the school of the future would look like in twenty years time. I'd encourage NACOL to get a copy of that and post it to their website, as it was quite refreshing.

The final thing that I found interesting was the panel was asked a question about whether or not they were concerns about the fact that if school was all online that they didn't have as much or the same level of interaction with their friends. What I liked about the students' responses was that they didn't focus upon their interaction in online or virtual environments, such as instant messaging or social networking, but they focused upon all of the other ways that they interact with their peers outside of the formal school and after-school environment. Kind of opposite from what Prensky, Jukes and some of the others talking about digital natives and other generational differences. One young lady even mentioned that there are more community-based sports and activities that are beginning to replace some of the school-based extra-curricular items, and this is where more of that social interaction takes place as opposed to only in school.

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