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  • Online Classes Lessen Damage of Snowmageddon

    With over a week of in-class instruction lost to two blizzards and many Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland schools forced to contemplate longer school years, a few Maryland teachers found an effective, online alternative to letting snow drifts reduce student achievement. Even as record snowfalls threatened most lesson plans, online learning proved to be an efficient tool for academic instruction for the few students and teachers fortunate enough to participate.

    As The Washington Post reports, the accessibility of virtual chat rooms, whiteboards, and quizzes allowed some students to keep up with class readings and assignments despite prolonged classroom absence. Patricia Lynch Carballo, a history teacher at Maryland’s Albert Einstein High School, utilized online learning to help her students stay on track for the standardized International Baccalaureate exam. She remarked on the experience:

    ‘In some cases, the quality [of the responses] is even better’ online, Carballo said. ‘They have a little more time to think about it.. It’s not unlike what we’d do in class. We’re just doing it online.’

    Virtual learning has become a successful alternative to traditional classroom instruction, whether through a fulltime online school, a blended virtual learning program, or an impromptu snow day class. The Department of Education’s recent meta-analysis of online schools and virtual programs echoes Ms. Carballo’s sentiments regarding online learning, reporting significant success in student achievement and test scores:

    …students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.

    K-12 online education has a lot to offer: greater teacher and student flexibility, increased availability of classes, better individual customization to students’ needs, and a more efficient, productive use of education funds. With over 1 million students taking some form of online instruction in the 2007-08 school year, students, teachers, and school districts across the country are already benefiting from virtual learning.

    While the effectiveness of a virtual classroom kept some Maryland students on track for standardized testing last week, most students in the D.C. Metro area and throughout the East Coast will spend the next few weeks trying to make up for lost time. With many schools considering longer days and shorter summers, even in the face of state budget shortfalls, the cost to teachers, parents, students, and taxpayers for schools to meet state demands for minimum academic instruction should factor into future availability of online classes. The efficient, cost-effective nature of virtual learning’s easily accessible instruction should give school districts a good reason to provide online classes throughout the year and to all students, regardless of the snow forecast.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Online Classes Lessen Damage of Snowmageddon

    1. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      Virtual Classrooms seem to work very well in today's society. Instant references are available, dictionaries are there in an instant and there is a wealth of education on the Internet. I understand from teachers that it is sometimes easier to manage an online class than a real class. I think this is probably because many students do not work well with the constrained education system that we all went through 40 to 60 years ago. All of this works to help make a better, more learned student. But I wonder what happens when the classes are over and these students have to get into the working world? Many of today's youth have no social skills to speak of. So smart they may be but how will they fit into the World?

    2. Pingback: Districts and Use of Online Classes « McKenna's EDT 6030 Blog

    3. Jeanne Stotler Woodb says:

      there was plenty of warning that both these storms and the one in Dec. were coming. Assigning lessons to be read and work books to be completed for Elem. should not be a problem. High schoolers who cam master computer games hould be able to get assignment off line and complete. It's the parents who should puss for this, I do day care and a third grader I kept had papers to complete, we worked on them as did his parents. As a parent when my kids were sick, I knew to go ahead with lessons when kids were home. The fact that most jurisdictions don't allow for unforeseen weather is just being short sighted. We have an average of five snow days per year, to allow for eight to ten would not be unreasonable, if not used they could mean a shorter school year.

    4. Randy Dutton, Washin says:

      Online public schools can be part of the solution for our nation’s education system. Half of all high school students are expected to get some or all their education online by 2019 according to a 2008 Harvard Professor’s study. Online public schools across the country are growing at a phenomenal rate, and are staffed with certified teachers, many with masters degrees. Online schools save money overall because the student/teacher ratios can be much higher. Online K-12 schools are fully funded by the states than have them but require no funding from local property taxes, so the property tax money received by local districts can be used to support fewer students at the traditional schools.

      Like spokes on a wheel, we should use the "brick and mortar schools" as instructional remote sites to the online public school. A full curriculum often is much more extensive than can be offered by traditional schools because it serves a much wider student population. Because a high percentage of online students perform all their work at home, less transportation and building infrastructure is needed to be funded. For those who want or need the traditional education, with direct teacher face-time and delivered at a set pace, they would get it, For students who just need a computer terminal for one or more courses and can’t stay at home, and perhaps want a teacher for occasional support, they would get it. While some traditionalists would lament the loss of some social interaction, and the elimination of snow days, there are some major benefits to online schools. Online students work at their optimum pace, are not subjected to bullying, sexual attacks, and negative peer pressure. Online schools can reduce drug and alcohol use, and dropout rates, and make it easier for those who have dropped out, to return.

      Online schools allow for student mobility during family trips, illnesses, emergencies, and snow days, thus helping them keep up to speed. Online schools also are a partial solution to violent urban schools. Online students are more influenced by their parents and less by peers. The curriculum works well for advanced students as well as those needing special assistance, and can be designed to allow advanced students to take more classes.

      With online schools, urban youth can get a great education and be less threatened by gangs, thus, political groups trying to grab more money for education to "balance the ledger" would lose influence.

      Online schools also can incorporate some of the very advanced course material from schools such as MIT’s Open Courseware high school program. With online schools, there are fewer distractions, and much of the course material is interactive. Grading and feedback in some courses often are instantaneous. Online chat sessions and webcast lectures help students connect with the teacher and other students. Online public school may not be for everyone, but it more closely allows “funding the student” than what currently is institutionalized. Many teachers also benefit because many can administer their classes from home. This certainly is a paradigm shift in how to look at education. Once a quality online school system is in place, rural areas can combine their natural environment with top notch educational opportunities. I’m experienced with online high school because my boys attend Washington Virtual Academy. We’ve done homeschooling and traditional schools, and an online school works best for us.

      Here are some resources if you want background.

      Florida Tax Watch Report – www. inacol.org/resources/docs/FLVS_Final_Final_Report(10-15-07).pdf

      INACOL National Primer for K-12 Online Learning – www. inacol.org/resources/docs/national_report.pdf

      Keeping Pace: A Review of Policy and Practice in K12 Online Learning – www .kpk12.com

      20/20 Costs and Funding of Virtual Schools – www. inacol.org/resources/docs/Costs&Funding.pdf

    5. ChuckL,NV says:

      I wonder how much of the improvement in responses is caused by the lack of classroom disruption available online.

    6. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      Randy – thank you for your insights. Remote learning has always been attractive and my guess is that at some point lectures will be streamed on the net. The danger, of course, is that one person with charm can influence alot of people (ie the POTUS) and social agendas become the lesson, not academic pursuits. In any event, the internet is a blessing and as long as it is free from government intervention "the truth" will always come to the surface.

    7. Jeff, Herndon, VA says:

      The Virginia Virtual Academy operated by K12 Inc. (www.K12.com), along with the Washington, DC-based Community Academy Public Charter School Online, also operated by K12, stand out as one of the only public schools that remained open during the devastating snow storms that forced many schools in Virginia and DC-metro areas to close for multiple days. Despite the weather, students logged on to their daily lessons and joined teacher-led classes using interactive web-based technology. Both online public schools were able to fully operate and stay on schedule without any significant interruptions.

      On Thursday, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell joined a virtual class hosted by the Virginia Virtual Academy and praised full-time online public schools for providing innovative new public school options for students and families.


    8. Micki-Tamarac, FL says:

      These schools would be much better for the students and the teachers. They would also be much more cost effective, therefore just like the charter schools I am sure the teachers union would object. The students would not be harrassed by other students and would be overseen by parents. I am sure the POTUS would object because his beloved unions would not agree to less spending in this department. Just as he has in Washington DC with the charter schools there, even though it saves money for the taxpayers and a better education is the result.

      Just my opinion!

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