Grand Rapids Schools plans to begin putting core classes online, largely in an effort to save money. In these days, districts are rightly looking for new ways to save money.
Having about thirty years since high school and now enjoying the digital age, I find it hard to believe that not only parents, but students are protesting this change.
The generation that most uses Facebook, Youtube, and other media sharing sites that I'm sure I have not clue about is protesting having their education online.
One of the main concerned is that it may not work for some kids. Well, I've got news for many parents who are not paying attention. The current system of regimented five days a week, fifty minutes a day for every subject isn't working for many kids.
The question is what flexibility districts can or should offer when beginning new options like this? Way back in 1977, my high school began School Within A School (SWAS) to try to reach some students with a self-paced option. I never opted in because I was one of the fearful people. While the existing system didn't excite me (I began skipping classes my junior and senior year because I had good grades and wasn't very excited about my classes), I was timid and not willing to experiment. Looking back on the decision, I see the huge benefits that I could have gained.
I wonder if some of these students and even parents will look back in twenty or thirty years and say the same thing. "What the heck was I worried about?" Sure, change is scary. There are lots of things in life that are difficult. I wonder what districts can do to calm some of the fears. Perhaps there is nothing, perhaps this needs to be a trial by fire experience for students and families. The point is that the digital generation is here. Online education will continue to increase both because demand is increasing and to save costs. As this option is allowed and encouraged many students will begin to see the benefits. There are so many ways for students to socialize now that being in class together isn't as necessary. (Nevermind that in my informal poll of people my age the most often method of meeting and making friends was not in the classroom, but in extracurricular activities such as sports, theater or debate club.)
I continue to wonder what is halting the advent of the online classroom that incorporates not only more efficient online instruction, but the next logical step of self-paced completion based on students ability to acquire knowledge and not time spent in a chair or looking at a computer screen. I'm shocked that in this digital age, we experience and up to now non-digital people cannot convince those who have grown up in the digital age that online instruction is to their benefit.
I am not sure what the answer is, but it appears that we'll need a better marketing firm to stress the benefits to the student and not to the school. Charter schools have been good at that in many instances, perhaps they ought to being to use those skills now.
Found this shortly after writing the blog. Seems to me that these examples need to be put in front of more parents and high school students.