With over 14 million people taking online courses, students taking courses via a virtual classroom may become the norm for instruction. Beginning in the Fall 2013, all high school students in Virginia will be required to take an online course in order to graduate. (See the eSchool News article "Virginia to require an online course for graduation.") Note: The new Virginia rule will apply to 9th graders next Fall.
What do you think of this idea?
I think it is great these 5 states require students to take an online course! It is good for them on so many levels. My first thought is that it teaches them the importance of time management. My next thought is that is shows them the flexibility of learning anytime and anywhere. They don’t have to be tied down to attending a class at a certain time each day but rather, they can continue learning while working and traveling. Taking online courses does force you to learn computer skills and troubleshoot computer problems. The argument that it isn’t fair to the students who don’t have computers at home just isn’t a strong enough point since students can make it to the library or a neighbor’s house. To be competitive and even keep up with life, you have to have access to a computer so if students don’t have one at home, then they better know where to find a computer.
Our goal as teachers has always been to encourage life-longing learning and the online environment is an excellent way to further that, in addition to preparing our students for a world that more and more centers on e-information and commerce.
Touched upon by article reviewers is the issue of staff professional development in the areas of online course design and delivery. It is clearly a different ballgame and I believe that the success of online programs is closely tied to this PD. As mentioned in one of the reviews, New York State Teacher Centers are doing an excellent job in preparing teachers to assume the online hat. Hopefully, similar models are already in place or are being adapted in states where online learning is mandatory. It would also be nice to see a required core-course in online teaching in every college and university that offers education degrees. At this juncture, not to offer it seems a major disservice to our future teachers.
I think it is a great idea to require students to take an online course in high school. However, that is only if their online teachers are prepared to teach online. Teaching online requires additional tools in your toolbox beyond face-to-face teaching. So, in order to students to get the most out of the class, teachers have to be trained.
From the student perspective, as space becomes more limited on college campuses and costs skyrocket, many universities are turning to online learning or an online component in their classes. If students have already taken an online course in high school they might be more prepared for college courses that are online.
Certainly, learning independently and on-line is a skill that students should have and will need to be successful.
However, learning on-line in an accredited course is not without cost.
Who is the provider? What is the provider's profit as a result of these requirements?
What does it cost per student? What does it cost the school or district?
Does the school or student bear the cost?
How are these courses scheduled into the school day?
What about students who do not have 24/7 access to computers or the internet?
Teachers in a public school can start blogs for free, and in school computer labs have students submit word-processed documents via free email accounts and prepare students for learning in a 21st century environment without districts having to incur additional expense in these difficult economic times. I have had a webpage and class blogs for 2 years now and my students tell me that the experience of running a paperless class did prepare them for college. Can teachers within a school provide on-line instruction--yes? Does an external provider need to be engaged--no. Will teachers need training and experience--yes!
iTunesU or open coursework from so very many colleges or websites may be another way to go. A presentation in school based on what someone has learned through an on-line course experience may be a way to balance the need to prepare students and the cost of doing so. Students could learn to select a provider, negotiate a course and share their experience of content and strategies with their peers or community.
Requiring the course may be premature until all school in a district have a 1:1 computing situation or better equipped schools--but it is something to set forth as an ideal.
Beware of enterprises that use these requirements to