Friday, November 18, 2011

Blog Post #13

Option 2: My Teacher is an App
All across the nation, states and districts are revolutionizing learning for ALL grades: online and virtual schools!! Those state and districts are now allowing K-12 to take all courses online, or just start out with one or two. Many schools are also starting to become computer based and mainly student-based self teaching. The teachers stand by to make sure students have help when they need it, but otherwise have no interference with it. According to Evergreen Education Group full-time virtual students are up 40% to 250,000 students. Over two million students are taking at least one class online, according to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. 

Many schools run their own online program, but most schools hire for-profit corporations. These corporations hire their own teachers, have current curriculum provisions, keep track of student performance, and speak out for online learning. This is all part of a random burst of experimenting with public schooling, but has a lot to do with budget cuts and a way to save money for schools, parents being disappointed by their children's schools, and problems with straight A students keeping up with their peers in other highly industrialized countries. Many supporters of online schooling say that online schooling can save states money, offer customized classes for every student, and the parents can have more choice in education. 

On the other side of the spectrum, many people are concerned about students' scores on standardized tests, the kids not being able to build social skills, and get along with others in actual group activities or just working together in general. Many smaller school districts have had some pretty tough competition from online schools as well considering the school is funded by the parents of attending students. Spring Cove School District, a very tiny district in an undeveloped part of Pennsylvania has lost 43 of its 1,850 students this year to online schooling; that is $340,000 lost to the cyber schools. The Superintendent of this district has had to cut nine teaching jobs, get rid of middle school Spanish and French, and also cancel the high school performance of "Aida". 

The president of the National Education Association, Dennis Van Roekel has said his "organization opposes full-time online schools, but fully supports integrating technology into the classroom". He also says "replacing teachers with online learning is a huge mistake". Although teachers are available in the virtual and online schooling, they are only available through e-mail, phone call, or video chat. This can difficult when the teacher gets back-logged on set times with students, and other students are not able to get an "appointment" made with the teacher. A social studies teacher at Georgia Cyber Academy, Rosie Lowndes, says that "online schooling is just what you make of it"..."having a child educate himself or herself is not the way to go, because a computer can't do it alone".

My Reaction
I found myself attracted right to this article as soon as Dr. Strange put it as an option. Two reasons why: firstly, I had heard about students in K-12 doing this kind of thing lately; secondly, I was curious as to what the opinions, and puts and takes to it were. Apparently a lot of kids are doing this online education full-time and part-time, more than I figured anyways. It is EXTREMELY OBVIOUS why they do it too: sleeping in more instead of waking up at the crack of dawn, and you can access class whenever you want. However, this makes way for laziness and for those kids and teens who are trying to work on time-management, this could make for bad habits. Waiting til the last minute, not doing the work because you are online and want to fool around, and Googling an answer for a test instead of studying, like a person in regular school does. I completely agree with the concerns of students not building up social skills, not learning how to work nicely with other in groups, and also not really having any physical activity (exercising your finger when you type does NOT count). But I also agree with students having personalized classes that they will actually want to take, and having them set at their level of capability. Plus, the parents can have more choice in what education their kids can have...though honestly, it IS more the student's choice than the parent. And what they say about preparing their children for college classes is true considering most are fully online if not not hybrid (in class and online). Again though, these kids do not need to be in full-time online classes at their age, maybe one or two part-time online courses to get their feet wet. What also needs to be considered is some kids really are not cut out for complete online classes, they need teachers to be physically in front of them to actually explain something without satellite interference or the internet freezing up. The downside for real public schools is that they lose a lot of tax money and funding for activities and extra curricular classes. Many schools have had to cut jobs, classes, and school functions because the money they got from the students is now being taken away and given to online schooling. So online schools are taking away money from kids in real school and giving it to people who work through a computer. I think that more schools should just integrate online learning into the classroom setting, instead of doing all this. For one, real schools would still have enough money for extra educational classes and school functions; and two, the students would still get online and virtual learning...but their would be a teachers present in the classroom to help them. Also, teachers can educate the students a lot better on time-management and how to focus on certain tasks before others. There are a lot of different ways to accommodate both the students' needs and the school's needs. Anyhow....after this is said, it really is how you look at it and what you make of it. I do not think students in K-12 need to be enrolled in all online classes in an online school...but that is just my opinion among thousands, if not millions, of others.


1 comment:

  1. "...Googling an answer for a test instead of studying,..." I would argue that we are testing for the wrong things if the "answer" can be found with a Google search.