Socializing the virtual student

Virtual schools are adding socialization to the curriculum, reports Ed Week.

Students enrolled in Commonwealth Connections Academy, a cyber charter school based in Harrisburg, Pa., spend most of their days doing classwork on a home computer, devoid of up-close interactions with other students or teachers. But two or three times a week, a recreational vehicle converted into a science classroom parks in a different Pennsylvania neighborhood, and students from the school have a chance to get in-person lessons from their teachers and meet fellow students.

Equipped with computer workstations and microscopes, Internet connections, and interactive whiteboards both inside and outside the vehicle, the RV takes Commonwealth Connections’ lessons from cyberspace to face-to-face.

The school also offers clubs, field trips and service projects. Some virtual schools have organized proms.

The online education company K12 Inc. commissioned an independent study by Interactive Educational Systems Design Inc. The May 2009 report compared full-time, online students in grades 2, 4, and 6 with students in traditional schools.

. . . cyber students were rated significantly higher by both parents and students themselves in various areas of social skills, though teacher ratings for those students did not differ significantly from those for students in traditional public schools. Problem behaviors among online students, as rated by the parents, teachers, and students themselves, were either significantly lower or not significantly different when compared with national norms.

Homeschooling parents usually get their children involved in sports teams, church choirs, art classes or other activities. I suspect parents of cyber-students do the same.

About Joanne


  1. Thanks for mentioning K12 in your blog! We believe that socialization is a very important aspect to any child’s education. And you are right — parents of cyber- students get their children involved in many socialization activities. We here at K12 also offer many ways for families to connect online and in person. We have written about this on our own K12 blog – thinktanK12:

    Thanks for helping spread the word about online education!
    steph h

  2. Most virtual school students I know are active members of the local homeschooling community.

  3. Hi Joanne, my name is Scott and I work for K12 and I wanted to thank you for writing this post and mentioning our socialization study. Socialization is a big issue for many virtual schoolers, and many families wonder how socialization may be affected in online learning. Understanding the needs of the families in our programs, we offer many opportunities for both students and parents to socialize with others in our programs, as well as getting involved in their local community. This is an issue that I am sure will continue to get lots of attention as we and other programs increase socialization opportunities to meet the demand.

    P.S. These ideas and opinions are my own and in no way reflect the opinions of my employer.