Thursday, February 07, 2008

Virtual Schooling vs. My Four Walls

Online Schooling Grows, Setting off a Debate. If you haven't read this article by Sam Dillon of the New York Times, it's definitely worth your time.

After reading through this article I am reminded that "Shift Happens," and not that my elementary teaching job is going anywhere tomorrow, it certainly will look much different 10 years from now.

Some of the points that jumped out at me that Mr. Dillon reported is that there is a "rapid growth of online schools..." and not just for higher education. He also mentions the "proliferation of online schooling," which tells me that times-are-a-changin'.

He goes on to point out two existing models of how this type of online schooling looks. One model is simply a supplement to the traditional compulsory education. The second model, full time online charter schools from the elementary level to secondary education.

Listen, teaching for me is a way of life, not a job. However, the reality is that we as educators are in a business, the business of educating the youth of America and that business model is changing... rapidly. Don't get me wrong, I am passionate about what I do as a fifth grade teacher and come to work each day knowing the awesome responsibility that awaits me and am humbled by the experience. But we are looking at a huge fundamental change in the way millions of our youth will become educated...virtually.

So what it comes down to is this; what do I offer my students that they cannot get somewhere else? What advantages can I offer within my class that another teacher cannot offer from a 1000 miles away from a web cam?

This is really home schooling with a twist. Unfortunately, there are quite a few folks upset with our educational system (NCLB) and the idea of online schooling appears to be extremely attractive to parents, myself included. Don't we all want the very best for our children?

My life's passion as of late is to figure out how to handle massive amounts of data, create social networks, push my own learning, all through the free tools offered online. All of this so I can help my own children learn these very same skills. The idea that I can supplement my children's education with things they are passionate about so they don't become dissident toward an educational system is very attractive to me.

I don't know, it's late and I feel like I am rambling on. Final point, how are public schools going to remain competitive with this kind of virtual model? Will other models emerge? There is a great deal to consider and I think it is truly an exciting time to be in education and I look forward to the many years to come.

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