There was a lot to take in with this assignment. I had to read it several times to digest it because to me, it was more analytical in nature. I am going to try and express what I have learned from visiting the Keeping Pace with the K-12Digitial Learning article. Understanding the digital landscape can be a bit confusing for the parent, student and the teacher. It is all a matter of who has control of the content and digital curriculum. As stated, suppliers cannot issue diplomas, but they do issue a lot of the educational substance for the students and schools who utilize it. With that said there were four things that I gleaned from reading thoughtfully through the Keeping Pace with Digital Learning.
- Digital learning has definitely been around the block for a while and has continued to grow outside of the private arena. Starting as a tool for students who need to recover credits, take AP courses while attending a physical school setting, offering dual enrollment to students who want to get a jump on college courses before high school graduation, seems to be the most prevalent reason for the online courses offered. The online platform has also been designed to aid students who need to recover credits, students who are likely to drop out of school and need an alternative type of education different than the traditional format, and homebound students who cannot attend a physical school.
- There are such various forms of digital learning available that it is almost like a restaurant menu that is too large to make a decision. One size does not fit all. However, with careful examination, a combination of the right amount of online classes and traditional classes which fit the aptitude of each individual student can be found. To me, there are too many different variables of what is needed that they outnumber the qualified teachers to teach them.
- States have been spending a lot of time examining Common Core State Standards and that has left little time to devote to online teaching training or even to begin the online instruction process at all. It’s a small wonder that there are only five states that offer online schools. Not to mention that they are grouped in the Southeast region of the U.S. I was surprised that those were the only offerings in the entire country, since my perception was that the Southern states often seem to be trailing other Northeastern states and even those in the Midwest.
- Online teaching requires a lot of time-consuming training as well as being able to handle the expense of paying for the certification to teach online courses. That is just for the state where they are certified to teach. When considering offering online courses across state lines, teachers are finding reciprocity an issue. Becoming certified in additional states is also expensive and confusing.
After reading, it seems that supplemental online courses are the centerpiece of the virtual state schools. The blended plan, to me, works well for many students who want to maintain a traditional school experience, but take courses online that may not be available to them in a physical classroom. When I taught 8th grade economics, we set our students up in an online learning environment that taught them “real life” economics. It involved finances, supply and demand, opportunity cost, savings, college, jobs, and more. It was a module where I monitored each student’s progress through the program. They had to reach specified goals by certain deadlines and could log in from home to work on their modules. It was a great experience and is something that would definitely help them in real life. The students were engaged and could ask questions of me or share information with other students while working. This program was created and run by a local Richmond business called Genworth. It was free for the school to use and was the essence of an online learning experience for our students.
I am getting my feet wet in the digital teaching arena with help from our CTRT trainer. I developed a web quest for my seventh graders to complete with a partner. They each have a computer, but one pulls up the website and the other types the answers to gain a set of notes for the unit. One cannot work without the other. Then, when the assignment is complete, the students follow instructions on how to send me the link electronically, which I can grade on schoology and send back. It is so cool. I think once I become more comfortable with the technology, I will do it more. This is a huge step for me and I would like to think that it will help me in the journey of teaching online learning courses for students in the future.
I feel that online learning will grow more in the future, but with many more transitions to make it more feasible for instructors to gain access through the “red tape” of state governments to teach students across the lines in different regions. I also believe that it will be adaptable to any type of student. For example, a student who needs to have complete online learning to complete state required courses will have access to the precise educational platform to be successful. A student that needs or desires some online courses, but doesn’t want to lose the physical connection with people or a school environment will also find a perfectly accessible solution. I can hardly wrap my head around the possibilities of even moving from students in our nation learning online to the world’s student population learning from all corners of the earth one day; problem solving and teaching each other digitally.
The blog I chose to read at the iNACOL site was about Student-centered learning. The first thoughts through my mind as I scanned it and then headed to the Executive Summary was that students could be graduating at the age of 12 or 13 if they are following their own paces and moving along to get the curriculum mastered. Doogie Howser, M.D. flashed through my mind for a moment. Every single student in a program such as this would work and master and move on at their own pace. Those that are slower to learn would move slower, obviously, but I wouldn’t think it would be as frustrating to them because they don’t have to “hurry up”. It is a very interesting idea and if the states had money to pay for it, which I am not sure they will ever get that much money, but hey, who knows? Students could actually get that deeper learning that we are working so hard to instill today.
The more I investigate digital learning, the more I get excited that it would be really great as long as we humans don’t lose sight of our personal socialization.