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ERIC Number: EJ850558
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-1
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0192-592X
Even! But No Longer Odd
Ramaswami, Rama
T.H.E. Journal, v36 n5 p38-44 May 2009
With hundreds of K-12 schools routinely offering online courses, the idea of a full-time virtual school is no longer as outlandish as it once may have seemed. Thanks to giant improvements in technology and the quality of their academic instruction, most virtual schools now hold a trump card they had not possessed: credibility. "There were many questions five years ago and not enough experience with online learning in the K-12 arena," says Dawn Nordine, director of instructional technology services for Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) 9 in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, who also serves as the director of Wisconsin Virtual School. "I think there was doubt as to the academic progress a student could achieve online and the quality of the experience." "There used to be a lot of the same concerns with traditional schools as well," says Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), a nonprofit group, and former director of the Office of Educational Technology at the US Department of Education. Whatever skepticism lingers is being put to rest by early research that affirms the value of online instruction--and the value of the students receiving it. "All of the preliminary data," Patrick says, "shows that virtual school students are equal to or better than students in traditional schools." "As with many innovations, it has taken some time for best practices to emerge and quality-assurance mechanisms to be put in place," Timothy Snyder, executive director of Innovative Digital Education and Learning-New Mexico (IDEAL-NM), a public education program, says, "Those practices and mechanisms are now largely in place." And they have made all the difference to the value and rigor of online instruction, Snyder believes. "The look, feel, and overall quality of today's online courses are far beyond those that existed even five years ago." Even as entrenched as virtual schools have become, Patrick says some old biases remain. "There are still people in leadership positions in education who say, 'I don't understand how students can be successful when they don't have a teacher teaching them.' There "is" a teacher teaching them--a faculty member who is trained to teach online who is teaching the child in a new way. There are not people who are actively against online learning. They just don't know what it is."
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Mexico; Pennsylvania; Wisconsin