22 June 2010

Is Online Learning Right for You?

It's a question that is often batted around at various conferences, staff meetings and conferences all over the country. I don’t like this question. The answer by the way is yes. What other format for learning allows for such differentiated instruction; pacing; engagement; communication? Where can a student turn his or her audience from the teacher, or class, into the entire world? Not just for the duration of the class, but for all time?

This should be exciting educators, not force us into a discussion about for which type of students in particular this “new” way of learning is right.

Every teacher needs to get on board and generate the kind of content that engages students. Teachers should be thrilled, not intimidated, by the resources and content that have never before been available in the ways accessible today. There is a better and ultimately easier way to reach our students than we had in the classrooms of the past.

There are students today who are overlooked because they may be troublemakers, have short attention spans, text during class, visit other websites when they should be working. These are the students many would say just wouldn’t do very well online. These are exactly the students who are currently being under-served that would thrive in an online setting. There is no type of student who would not thrive in an online setting if they were properly supported and engaged.

The question we should be asking is: What type of student is right for the kind of class where everyone shows up in a room at the same time, gets on the same page practices the same skills and then has to wait for everyone else to finish before they can move on? I think you know the answer to that one.