Thursday, August 26, 2010

Virtual Schools

This article discusses virtual schools in Oregon. While only 1% of students in Oregon are currently enrolled in an online public school, there has been much debate in the state over the place of these schools among the already existing brick-and-mortar public schools. The article explains that virtual schools "employ teachers who provide lessons online using electronic documents, videos, e-mail, telephones and Web cameras." This sounds like the epitome of using technology outside of the classroom, but members of the Oregon Board of Education worry that this development could be harmful to the existing schools because their funding is based on enrollment, so if too many children opt to enroll online, schools will lose funding. So, the questions they have been debating are whether or not they should cap the number of students that can choose that option, how the virtual schools should be funded, and how the virtual schools should be managed for quality. I, however, am stuck on the question of whether or not it can actually be beneficial for individual students to attend online schools. Maybe I'm just being old fashioned, but I feel like kids need daily interaction with people other than their families in order to develop socially. Even most homeschooled children interact with other kids ad adults through park district programs, church events, or academic clubs. Will that be the case with students of virtual schools? Also, there will probably come a time when those students attend a real school, even if it's not until college. And at that point, I imagine the students would be unprepared to work with others in a classroom, share a professor's attention, or use a regular textbook.

2 comments:

liz exo said...

The idea of a virtual school is very new to me as well. I am familiar with online classes at the college level and sometimes high school levels classes for someone trying to obtain their GED, but an completely online school is very foreign to me. I do agree that social skills are equally as important as the learning that goes on inside of the classroom, so I think that online schools would really hinder and social skill improvement. Actually, I am really interested to hear what the perceived advantages of an online school are in the first place? It seems to me that there are more obvious disadvantages than advantages...

scalhoun said...

Your concern for students developing socially without being enrolled in school is extremely well-founded. Children who have very little or no contact with other children their age can have serious developmental problems. If a child is constantly surrounded by adults, they cannot develop at the "normal" pace. Often, children miss the stage of being children and jump to the mindset of an adult way to early and that can have serious effects on them later in life.