We have our youngest enrolled in an online high school. He’s taking three classes online and I’m handling the other three in our home school. Initially, we enrolled him because I need support teaching the maths and sciences at the high school level, and Mark’s work hours are in constant flux, making it hard for him to be a consistent teacher.
As we go along, I’m discovering all kinds of interesting things about this new (new to me, at least) method of education. There are many things I like about it. The information is presented in a lively, interesting way, with video clips and interactive diagrams. The teachers are very accessible through email, chat rooms, or phone. Quizzes and tests are immediately graded and recorded, and the student’s progress is posted up to the minute. The student can work at his or her own pace, which really helps in mastering the material.
On the other hand, I worry that this is all done electronically, void of direct human contact. Now before you shake the socialization finger at me, be assured that our son has plenty of human contact through involvement in various service and enrichment groups. And yes, we do let him see his friends. Often. But, there’s something about a classroom exchange, with the teacher and students engaged in live discussion, that is irreplaceable. It’s the mental energy that is generated and shared and the satisfaction of digging into and conquering a topic together that we don’t get when we conduct our education online.
The other night, our oldest son came home to study for a while. He mentioned that he thought it was a great advantage for our youngest to be enrolled in online classes because, at the university level, more and more of the course work is being conducted online. Assignments, evaluations, discussions, grades…everything is a mouse click away. Nowadays, it’s impossible to navigate a college degree without daily and extended access to a computer and Internet service. Taking high school level classes online will give our high schooler a head start for secondary education.
True enough. And yet, I have to wonder what will happen as this trend continues to expand.