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Should 6-12 offer online options?

Annie Condron

width=200On the orientation day for my online class, I always start out by saying the same thing: online isn't for everybody... but maybe it should be.

 

For students to thrive in an online classroom, they need to monitor themselves to meet weekly and long-term deadlines. Obviously, the format of the class affects the structure greatly, but it can breed independence without losing the teachers' guidance. It also forces students to be active in their education rather than passive. You can't hide in the back row of an online class because discussion participation is mandatory.


Is this something we should consider more seriously for middle and high school students?


Online classes require students to take ownership of their work, be self-directed learners, practice time management and learn computer literacy along with their subject matter. All of these skills will prepare students for the life that awaits them after school: where bosses, unlike teachers, rarely hold your hand through your work, accept missed or late deadlines or give constant reminders, "extra credit" and second, third and fourth chances.


I've seen real results with every student who truly engaged in my class. They all significantly improved their writing ability. I think a lot of that had to do with practicing reading and writing ALL the time through the online format. Also, with new technology, it's easy to integrate video, audio and other aids for different kinds of learners.

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Joanne Jacobs referenced an example of this back in December that really captures the beauty of the online experience:

  • ". . . (At first) I was always confused, had trouble following directions, could not focus on the task at hand, and expected to be hand-fed all the information."

She learned how to manage her time and pace herself.

  • "Teaching myself was shockingly effective. I was finally being taught by someone who fully understood me." Full article

Maybe this isn't the case outside the English/writing realm. Maybe it's asking too much of students too soon. Maybe it starts in class with computer literacy, then moves on to a hybrid format until teachers determine what students can handle it. Maybe it puts an undue burden on parents. Or maybe it's a step in the right direction.

 

What do you think? Should schools offer more online classes for 6-12 students? Take the poll or offer your opinion in the comments section.