Traditional schools aren’t working, so it’s time to move learning online, writes Reason Magazine editor Katherine Mangu-Ward in a Washington Post op-ed.
Thousands of ninth-grade English teachers are cobbling together yet another lecture on the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare’s day, when YouTube is overflowing with accessible, multimedia presentations from experts on Elizabethan theater construction, not to mention a very nice illustrated series on the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge site.
Virtual charter schools are showing how it can work, she writes. For example, the Florida Virtual School offers for-credit online classes to any child enrolled in the state system.
Teachers are available by phone or e-mail from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. The state cuts a funding check to the school only when students demonstrate that they have mastered the material, whether it takes them two months or two years.
If lesson planning and delivery move online, teachers will have time to provide personalized support and mentoring, Mangu-Ward writes.
“Most teachers and most students who are taking classes online say that they have more interaction with their teachers and students than they do in a traditional setting,” claims Julie Young, Florida Virtual’s CEO.
Learning online won’t turn America into a nation of home-schooled nerds, sitting in their basements, keyboards clacking. And it doesn’t mean handing your kids over to Rosie the Robot from “The Jetsons” for the day.
There are many online learning models. I predict full-time virtual schooling will not work for the typical K-12 student unless there’s a parent coach at home. We should see more use of online education to provide challenge for bright students, extra help for lagging students and alternatives for those who don’t function well in a classroom.