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  • Saving Schools and Empowering Parents through Virtual Education

    Federal Preschool Programs

    Last Thursday, Paul Peterson, Director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University and editor-in-chief of Education Next, treated a Heritage audience to a discussion about his new book Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning. He was joined by an all-star panel of discussants, which included Susan Patrick, President and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), Michael Horn, Executive Director of the Innosight Institute and co-author of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, and Adam Schaeffer, Education Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute.

    The National Journal today reported on the event:

    Leaders of online education gathered Thursday to discuss the role that virtual learning must play in our nation’s future, saying brick-and-mortar classrooms won’t become obsolete but will be complemented by blended and virtual learning models.

    ‘We [the United States] were great at creating human capital but the rest of the world is catching up,’ said Paul Peterson, executive editor at Education Next during a forum at the Heritage Foundation. According to Peterson, virtual learning will allow for the personalization of education and save costs.

    Each discussant gave a unique perspective as to the benefits of online learning. Notably, Susan Patrick explained that the demand for virtual learning is far outpacing supply. 47 percent of parents want access to online learning but just 4 percent currently have access. Schools, she explained, are set up like egg cartons. There is a text book with excerpts made available to all children regardless of their individual learning needs. Yet, these same children can look around and see a world of information that should be available to them.

    And while online learning can make a world of information available to all students, it can also make the “classroom” experience much more enjoyable. Susan Patrick recalled an interaction with a child who has cerebral palsy who was taking a course online. The child later reported that he could fully participate in class because none of the other children were aware that he had a disability.

    Online learning also democratizes access to content. Today, 40 percent of U.S. high schools offer no Advanced Placement classes. With virtual education, the best teachers could be trained to teach online and their talents could be leveraged to teach students across the country.

    As panelist Michael Horn asked, if we know people need customization, why do we insist on standardization?

    Online learning has the potential to fundamentally transform the age-old approach to education. But, there are still significant barriers that stand in the way of the revolution. Adam Schaeffer argued that government is very good at stopping threats to the status quo, of which online learning is one. Virtual education isn’t going to expand without money getting into the hands of parents in order to facilitate widespread school choice.

    Online learning has the potential to vastly improve the educational experience of American children. And at the same time, it can empower families to be their child’s educational manager. There will come a day when families can design a portfolio for their child that includes a little of everything on the educational options menu: home schooling coupled with online courses, public or private school coupled with a virtual tutor, available 24 hours per day. The possibilities are endless.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to Saving Schools and Empowering Parents through Virtual Education

    1. w pauwels says:

      Computerized learning is the way to increase the productivity of the education industry and reduce the cost per student.

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    3. Ronomundo, Conway, A says:

      So long as the United States continues to rely on the income taxation system, and it's corruption, instead of switching to the Fair Tax System, parents who want to educate their own children at home should have a home school tax credit. After all, the track record is superior, there is no additional drain on the public school system or its transportation.

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    5. Bruno Behrend says:

      Whether it's virtual education, 100% fully funded school choice, or rapid chartering of failing public schools, there will be no robust transformation, nor any successful tertiary reform until the power of the teachers' union is dramatically undermined.

      With the exception of a small issues, the intellectual battle on education is over. All that remains is the pitched political battle to drive unions out of education.

      There will never be a better time than the present to aggressively attack their moral legitimacy. Teachers' unions have bankrupted states while providing a dangerously substandard education for all strata of Americans.

      If we don't use this opportunity to win, it will be another generation lost to their mendacity.

    6. Meadow, USA says:

      A 'Virtual School' does not empower parents because it is regulated by the public school system. Virtual Schools are not "home schooling". Instead, they are a public school system literally inside the home and the parents are not in charge of their child's education.

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    8. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      As a Nation, we can no longer survive, nor compete, with the antiquated systems of teaching that our school union systems demand.

      American has the capabilities of teaching masses of students, via the computer. We now live in an age, and have for quite some time now, that by the time we purchace technology, it is antiquated. Compare that to our education systems.

      By the time a Teacher recieves credentials to educate, their methods and their educationis already passe'.

      We neeed technicians in the classrooms to aid the students in pursuing their education.

      The developement of new ideas and materials, is happening on so fast a schedule, that by the time a child graduates from high school, all that they have learned through the eleventh grade in applied science and mathematics is useless. They really have no need for further education, as the job market itself will have the need and equipment to train them as they work.

      America will always have a vast need for service industry people and there is honor in that, and we have forgotten to teach our young this, and thus we have created a nation divided of snobs and laborers.

      Neither is more important than the other. One may be the greatest at configuring new complex industrial light weight metal, but can't fix their toilet, do thier laudry, build their house, fix an electrical short, or even do their laundry or scrub their floors.

      All work, done by anyone has honor to it, and is beneath no one. If you would happen to find yourself lost in the forest, would you rely on the computer whiz or the hunter?

      Our Teaching system is as antiquated as a coal tender on a deisel locomotive.

    9. Jill, Ledyard, CT says:

      This is far more complex than meets the eye. I am a conservative educator, working in a university, which is a lonely life. But I have been a mover and a shaker from my earliest teaching days, through being a principal, and now a university early college programs administrator. I homeschooled my second grade students during a strike of my district in the early 70's and resigned from the NEA when its leadership endorsed Jimmy Carter. I would be fired were I principal today because I am so politically incorrect. I was the facilitator for the proposal for the first charter school in my state. My first few years at the university where I now work, I helped faculty members develop online courses. My current job requires that I anticipate distance education trends and incorporate them into our programs. I understand the above comments. But here is the problem. The face-to-face environment is the one in which we should be teaching children how to live and learn, observe and reflect. We are abdicating our responsibility in this regard, and making some dangerous assumptions about online learning being some sort of panacea that will better teach our children truth. Yet the internet is highly manipulable as well as being mesmerizing and isolating, even while it purports to bring the world in. Of course online learning is a valuable resource, but it is not the sole answer to all of the problems we face in educating our children to be informed citizens of a free country. It is a virtual world that they are living in, and we are not only letting them do it, we are impressed by their so-called skill in doing so. Have we nothing to teach them about living in this world without the interfaces of technology dominating their lives?

    10. Deb, CA says:

      My kids have been in a public virtual charter school here in CA, since 2002. My 9th grader has 8 teachers all fully credentialed (1 for each of the 6 classes, 1 homeroom, and 1 counselor). They have learned how to teach themselves, how to find information (using the internet; youtube videos, itune lectures…), verify it that it is reliable, and how to schedule their time. They are way ahead of their “brick & mortar” public/private school peers.

      Since it is a public charter school, they provide the computer, printer, ISP reimbursement, and all the materials needed to complete the courses. The teachers are great and the curriculum is excellent!

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    12. Heencesab says:

      Greetings, I am Corey and wanted to introduce myself to this forum. Ive been a hidden lurker but haven't added anything yet and want to start posting frequently.

      Also, does anyone here have H.I.D headlights? I am looking to buy a kit for my vehicle and all suggestions would be appreciated!

    13. Darla, Houston says:

      Excellent points, Jill. Interpersonal communication skills is certainly something this raising generation, and, frankly, the one before it, is lacking- severely in some cases. On-line classes are a boon to many, especial those who are "non-traditional" learners. But personal connections are still vital, that is something that is so wonderful about homeschooling co-ops and support groups in this day & age. Kids can learn in the best environment for them, but still get the social development necessary to function in the real world.

    14. Michelle Simms, Argy says:

      As a LIVE and interactive online program for 6th-12th grades, we here at TheOnlineCampus.net daily speak with parents who are seeking education options, especially excellent Christ-centered options. Parents are finally realizing that a virtual school can be a "way out" of toxic public schools or mediocre private schools. They are no longer tied to the schools in their neighborhood, but have a national and global array of options. Online programs will enhance brick and mortar campuses and will reward the best of teachers. Even the purchasing trends in real estate will be affected by the emergence of excellent online schools, as families realize school district zoning no longer stems their options for their students' schooling.

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