I read an article this week called "Distance learning becoming part of school life" on the CNN website (http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/03/03/distance.education.ap/index...
As members of this class we are all participating in "distance learning" and so I thought this article would be an appropriate topic for discussion.
It is amazing that we can take an entire 3 credit course over the computer without phyiscally seeing each other for the entire 8 weeks that we spend together. The advantages and disadvantages of distance learning is something I can save for another blog post, because this article discusses specifically the topic of distance education making its way into elementary, middle and high schools. Many people associate distance learning with college level courses, but this concept is no longer limited to higher education.
According to the article in the 2002-2003 school year an estimated 36 percent of public school districts had students enrolled in distance courses. The reason these districts are offering online classes is that they want to allow the students the ability to take a class that is not offered at their school. Distance courses also allow students more flexibility in their schedule during the typical school day. For example taking an online math or science class would allow for an extra music or elective class.
One concern discussed in the article is that some school districts question the quality and cost of these courses. However, there are many new ways of assessing things like, participation in class and interaction between the students and the teacher.
Our high school had discussed the option of offering an additional foreign language class online, because there is so much interest in taking Chinese or Japanese, yet we do not have a qualified teacher and may have a difficult time finding one. It hasn't gotten past the "discussion" stage, because as stated before there are concerns about the quality of education through these particular online classes (especially a foreign language, which should contain a large portion of speaking activities). I will not be surprised if eventually we decide to offer some classes online, it certainly would be an asset for students who are above the average levels of Math or Science and want to take something more challenging.