YU 2.0

Online courses as a graduation requirement? Could we? SHOULD we? What do you think?

Thanks to Leslie Salley, who tweeted about this...apparently, in Memphis, a place very near and dear to my heart and my hometown :) , the city (public) schools are putting place graduation requirements which include taking a certain amount of online courses. (See HERE for the article, HERE for a blog post with info about online course requirements in others states as well).


Now keep in mind that this appears to be a fully online course of study (for these particular classes), NOT a "regular" class enhanced by online discussion on a Wikispace, or something like that.


My questions for this esteemed group (please respond in the comments!) ...

1) Has anyone had any experience with online courses in their schools? Would you be able to comment about your experiences, how it went, pros, cons, etc?


2) Do you think that this is something that would/could work in our day schools? Perhaps this could help cut tuition costs? Perhaps it could allow smaller schools to offer more courses, even if only one or two students are interested in a particular offering? How would you set it up to ensure that there is real learning going on, on par with what would take place in a 'real' classroom setting?


3) Finally, after asking the "would/could" question, here comes the "SHOULD" question: Should this be pursued in
our schools? Is there educational value in having a mixture of classroom and online courses? Or would you view the advent of online courses as, at best, a "b'dieved," a necessary evil that has to be tolerated in order to lower costs, etc.?

Views: 33

Tags: EdTech, Education, Online, Technology

Comment by Uriel Lubetski on December 29, 2010 at 11:19pm

1) We are using K12.com this year for the first time. So far the reviews are mixed. I have it set up as follows. Students are taking the courses fully online as their elective. I have a teacher who is in the room with them taking attendance to make sure they are there and the teacher corresponds with the K12 teacher to monitor student work. The better students are performing very well. The lower level students - some are doing their work and some are not.


2) It could work in our day schools and possibly cut some costs. It certainly allows smaller schools to offer a variety of classes - that's what is happening now. How I would set it up? see #1.


3) I was thinking of this myself. It seems to me that many people in the workplace are taking online courses. Therefore, this is a skill they need to learn in HS and should be getting some exposure to.

Comment by Adam Englander on December 30, 2010 at 11:40pm

We experimented with Florida Virtual School (run through the public school system -totally free) last year for 8th grade American History. The program is well run and rather sophisticated.  Nonetheless, we abondoned it in the middle of the year.  The kids had their virtual teacher and our own teacher in the classroom.  Most students just had the sense that they "weren't really learning" and this was corroborated by a survey I gave them.  Ironically, after it was gone some students asked for it back! 

Pros - tremendous student independence, free, emphasis on critical thinking and analysis, flexibility, got them used to a style of education that they are bound to see again.

Cons - tremendous student independence! had a feeling of not being "real" - kids could always improve their work to improve their grade (which many might love).


I would be more confident with this working in high school, especially at the upper grades, where more independence is expected.  Most important  -  you need buy in from the outset from students and parents (which we overlooked)  - show them what this kind of program is all about.  Consider this just for those who want it (we forced this upon the entire class).  Real learning CAN occur if this is done right.


I believe this should be pursued on some level (even very small) in our high schools.  Kids are learning this way more and more (even tough they may not realize it).  The money issue is also a big reason to at least give this serious thought.  Even though we dropped the program, many parents were impressed we tried something "bold" (and they were even appreciative of the fact that we were honest enough to say it wasn't going so well!).  I would be happy to discuss this further if anybody is interested.

Comment by Frank Samuels on February 11, 2011 at 4:14pm

Hi Dov,


Thank you for beginning this blog and for your thoughtful comments. I have been running a “blended class” with my Grade Twelve students in a course called “The Writer’s Craft”. We meet three times per week for about an hour at a time, but all of our materials and most of the resources that I bring to the class I then post on our Moodle site.


My students are required, in their own time, to post certain assignments on the Moodle, to complete web presentations in Weebly – linked to the Moodle and we have just completed a very successful session using Google Short Stories – which we uploaded to a common YouTube account - again linked to our Moodle.


I know that this is not a “proper” online course, but it is a model that I would like to see used as a starting point in our schools.


I believe that each and every one of our graduates will be required, at some point or other in their post secondary education to take an on-line course and I feel strongly that we as secondary educators should prepare our students for this experience.


However, if one is a traditional (whatever that means) educator in a bricks and mortar building, then I am much more in favour of the blended approach that I have described above.


In addition to teaching, I also put together the timetable to our schools – and I know that if we were to move to completely “online” courses, that, unless we move to a 1-1 laptop programme, that we do not have at present – we would simply not have enough computing space or time for our students to use their school day as productively as possible.  Easily solved, I hear you say – use wireless and let the students bring in their own computers! Yes – you are right, but this is not without its own logistical challenges.


Of course, this equation changes as one moves into smaller and smaller schools in more and more remote locations. Speaking hypothetical


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