News Herald – Juliann Talkington
“You have probably heard the claim, “If you choose to educate your child online, he/she will be a social misfit.” To analyze this assertion, it is important to understand online education.
There are two basic types of online education: real-time and self-paced. In real-time online courses, students attend class on a computer. Classes are held at specified times and students participate in discussions during class periods. Each real-time online class is slightly different, because students participate in the instruction.
Self-paced courses are prepared in advance. Students progress through the material at their own pace. There is no real-time class interaction. Proficiency is sometimes tested with quizzes or tests that are integrated into the learning material. In this case, students must pass a quiz/test before they move on to future lessons. In other cases, students are required to go to proctored test centers to take exams.
In general, self-paced courses work well for material that requires little discussion. Real-time classes are more effective when most of the student learning occurs during classroom dialog.
Online education is appealing, because there is less wasted time. There is no need to drive to a physical location, worry about disruptions that occur in physical classrooms, or waste time dressing for school. In addition, students and parents have the ability to work school around other things in their lives.
Self-paced instruction is more cost effective than traditional classroom teaching, because lectures are prepared in advance and are used many times. In addition, this type of course delivery can be of higher quality than traditional classroom instruction, because the best teachers can present the content and there are no interruptions.
Some students find self-paced online instruction challenging, because they can procrastinate to the point that it is nearly impossible to learn the material. As a result, there is a reasonable argument that self-paced instruction is only appropriate for highly motivated and disciplined university and high school students.
Also, it is possible for students to succeed in an online environment without learning how to interact with others. As a result, it is imperative that online students have other avenues for developing social, leadership, and team skills.
Online education is not for everyone, but is an attractive alternative for motivated, self-disciplined students who have a strong social network and opportunities to build leadership skills and learn how to work on a team outside of school.