Introduction to Educational Technology EME 2040
Florida State College of Jacksonville
August 20, 2011
Online courses in high school are causing much debate. Although many people are bucking the trend, those who have willingly taken online courses have found there are many benefits. However, with the integration of any new technology brings new concerns that need addressing. Although online courses may not be for everyone, they offer numerous perks that are typically limited with conventional schools.
Pros and Cons of Online High School Classes
While online classes are a part of many colleges, there is intense debate over whether they should be incorporated into high school education. The advocates of online education key in on the convenience, flexibility, self direction, cost savings, safety, creativity, pacing aspect and access to resources. Those opposed to online classes feel that online education is driven solely by budget cuts and the result is a cheaper education that has less guidance, lacks the social aspect, has accreditation issues and as a result, less beneficial to the students. Others think that blended learning which combines virtual education and face-to-face instruction is the most effective route, but possibly not the most cost effective.
A recent report by the United States Department of Education states that online learning “is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology” (Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, & Jones, 2010). The growth has been around 65% for the number of K-12 public schools that have enrolled in distance education and more than 1 million K-12 students have been estimated to take online courses in the 2007-08 school year (Means, et al., 2010). This growth has fueled much debate on whether or not students gain as much from virtual learning as they do with face-to-face instruction with a teacher. According to the study by the U.S. Department of Education, they felt that the use of online courses in a K-12 setting needs to be examined further in order to better determine the effectiveness of online learning for a range of subjects as well as for a variety of students (Means, et al., 2010). Just this past year in Florida, virtual classrooms were created in response to Florida’s Class Size Reduction Amendment. Students in Miami walked into their precalculus class and found they were taking a class utilizing computers without a teacher (Herrera, 2011). The class had a facilitator to address technical problems and to track progress, but couldn’t offer guidance with the math itself. The school found a loophole around the class size amendment by offering the electronic learning lab (e-lab) which doesn’t limit the number of students allowed in the classroom. Many parents were upset because they received no notification of the new type of course their children were taking for a core subject and weren’t given any other options. However, school administrators responded by saying they had to find a way to abide by the class size limits. Ms. Robins, the assistant principal of curriculum at Miami Beach High, said that the e-labs were required because “there’s no way to beat the class-size mandate without it” (Herrera, 2011). Under the class reduction amendment, prekindergarten (pre-k) through the third grade cannot have more than 18 students; in fourth through eighth grade, classes are limited to 22 students per teacher; in high school, for the core courses like math and English, the size is limited to 25 students (“Class Size,” 2002). Some of the e-labs surpass the allowed numbers for core subjects with the simple loophole and have between 30 and 40 students in the class. Opponents favoring online courses think the typical brick and mortar schools can be limiting and bogged down with distractions. A typical class will teach the same material, at the same speed to a variety of...