Teaching online in high school

From the NCTE Inbox comes this Boston Globe article, “At high schools, more students logging on to learn.” Three interesting paragraphs from the article:

The Peak Group, an educational consulting firm, estimates that more than 1 million American high school students are currently taking Internet courses, up from 571,000 last year and 378,000 the year before.

The virtual classes have a maximum of 25 students, who receive regular high school credit if they complete the course.

The Internet courses, also referred to as distance learning or e-learning, expose students to a much broader range of courses than a single school could possibly offer. Among the more esoteric topics are ”Contemporary Irish Literature,” ”The Golden Age of Classical Greece,” ”Meteorology: A Study of Atmospheric Interactions,” and ”DNA Technology.

I think this is the right way to do online classes for at least two reasons. First, the numbers of students (at least for these online courses) are small, a mistake that has been made in the past by administrators. Second, these online courses are offering “extras” that would be hard to do in all but the most wealthy and/or large of school districts. It isn’t replacing the “basic” courses.

We aren’t at a place in terms of the technology or anything else where it makes sense for high school and college students to take all their courses online, but I think we are at a place where it makes sense for nearly all high school and college students to take at least some of their courses online.

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