What Exactly is “Online School?”
Instead of getting on a school bus every morning, imagine being educated at home as part of an online school. Sometimes referred to as virtual schools, online schools are basically a typical public school curriculum that is taught at home using a computer connected to a network or the Internet. Students work online through chat rooms, e-mail, or other electronic means to get assignments, listen to lectures or instruction, and even ask questions. Simply put, it’s like a school at home. The big advantage being the individualized learning pace for each student. Students can work quickly through a subject, or spend extended time on more difficult subjects. Since students are not in a class, they can work at their own pace.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online School
The obvious advantages of getting an education in online schools include learning in a safe environment at home away from negative influences from other kids like being bullied, fighting, drug abuse, alcohol use, etc. But there are even more obvious advantages to being educated in an online school. Another advantage is ease of use. One of the largest virtual school providers is K12. With a single phone call, this company will ship the entire year’s curriculum at your door, ready to start.
The disadvantages of online schools are mainly a lack of socialization and oversight. Kids at this age need to be around other kids of the same age. Online school students miss out on that aspect of a public school education. In Oregon, there is currently an ongoing issue on just how much oversight is needed for their online public schools. The local governments, school board, and teacher’s union all want more rules and oversight for online schools before any more students are allowed to enroll.
Online Schools Considered a Radical Idea by Some, A God-Send by Others
While online school may seem like a radical idea at first, those enrolled in an online school love the learning experience. For example, Sixth grader Lacey McGraw, a 12-year-old living in Canby, Oregon does her schoolwork at home through an online school. Lacey really likes her online teacher, although she has only met her face-to-face one time. For most of her time doing schoolwork, Lacy and her teacher communicate through email and chat room. Mrs. Norland, Lacey’s teacher at the online public school Oregon Virtual Academy, lives about 12 miles away in Lake Oswego.
Lacey says she is able to communicate better to her teachers in this online school format. She is also able to work at her own pace, slowing down for some of the tougher topics of study, and going faster through the easier lessons. This customized, individual learning pace is something that is not possible in a typical classroom setting. Lacey’s parents watched their daughter fall farther and farther behind in a traditional public school. They tried tutors, private schools, even holding Lacey back a year. Nothing seemed to work. Her parents enrolled her in the online school, and within 18 months, Lacey was up to her grade level in all subjects. For the McGraw family, online school was not a radical idea, it was a God-send.
OPB News; “Oregon Lawmakers Debate Online Schools”
WallSteetJournalOnline; “Online High Schools Test Students’ Social Skills”
Time.com; “What Makes a School Great?”