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online learning


Some things are just meant to roam free, like chickens in a farmyard. But students in a computer lab? Take 30-45 students, sit them in front of unmonitored computers, and you get a free-range social club and an Internet caf?—not a classroom.

On August 1st, the National Collegiate Athletic Association put into effect new standards for online courses high school athletes may take. High school athletes seeking admission to a Division I school will be required to have taken 16 NCAA approved core classes in English, physical or natural science, social science, math, foreign language, or comparative religion and/or philosophy. Because student athletes have such full schedules, the flexibility of online courses has made it a popular choice; however this flexibility has often meant more relaxed standards.

A weak economy paired with a national push to improve reading and math as well as other core subjects has left an important skill behind in K12 classrooms—digital media literacy.

Here's the quote that I think should compel every school administrator to read Allan Collins' and Richard Halverson's new book, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology:

"If educators cannot successfully integrate new technologies into what it means to be a school, then the long identification of schooling with education, developed over the past 150 years, will dissolve into a world where the students with the means and ability will pursue their learning outside of the public school." In other words, it's time to figure this technology thing out—now.

A classroom lecture at Capistrano Connections Academy in Southern California involves booting up the home computer, logging on to a Web site, and observing a teacher conducting a PowerPoint presentation of that day's lesson entirely online. Through microphone headsets, students can watch on their home computers, respond to the teacher's questions, and take part in classroom discussions.

Online learning providers have long touted a variety of advantages of their solutions. But the H1N1 epidemic has given new reasons for schools to invest in such technology.

During his presentation on “Effective Leadership in an Era of Disruptive Innovation” at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Washington, D.C., in June, Scott McLeod of Iowa State University (and blogger at made a statement that was quickly captured in Tweets by many of those in attendance. “We’re facing a disruptive innovation,” Scott said. “But it’s not online learning; it’s personalized learning.”

Over the past decade, online learning has risen to become one of the fastest growing sectors in education and certainly one of the most intriguing. Today, more and more students at all levels of education—elementary to postsecondary—are opting to take courses online. It is a testament to the effectiveness of this model of education.


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