Something radical is happening in parts of America; students don’t have to travel to class – all they need is a computer and Internet access. The rise of online schools;
Elaine Disney fits high school between practicing for piano competitions and traveling from Roseburg to Eugene for lessons. This would be trickier if Disney, 15, were expected to be in a classroom all day. Instead, all she needs is a computer with Internet access. The Melrose resident is starting her sophomore year of high school with the online Insight School of Oregon. She’s part of a growing group of students attending public school over the Internet, according to Oregon online schools and Douglas County district officials
New Jersey, parts of Illinois and other States in America are experimenting in 21st century education reforms; not just Charter Schools (equivalent of our Free School system), but public schools are beginning to offer some classes online. The freedom for the student, and parents, is profound; more importantly, it is much cheaper for the schools overall budget, too.
An online element also allows the individual to study at a much more suitable pace to their needs, access to greater resources and the possibility of a much more extensive program. The choice and opportunities for the child gives them additional means to fulfill their potential.
The American Academy, for example, was established to work with school districts and help ‘drop outs’, those who failed to achieve a high school education. It seeks to understand what level of education the individual currently has and then fills in the missing courses to achieve a high school diploma. TAA states the maximum cost (that’s if you lack any education) is $1500, but public and Charter Schools offer no online fee; the student is just given the choice to study online.
Of course, in the UK, we already offer online degrees, diplomas, GCSEs and A Levels, but it would be worth allowing free schools, academies and state schools the option of delegating some sections of the semester online. Currently, online education is aimed at young adults or those seeking a career change.
Maybe it is time to expand online education to primary and secondary levels in the UK.
The Internet can be a vast mine of knowledge waiting to be explored; surely the education system has a duty to ensure this resource is fully utilised by children? If the Department of Education wishes to achieve a 21st Century education system, then it is time to take a leaf from our American cousins and give students greater choice and freedom.
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