Would you enroll your kids in a virtual school? This is an increasing trend which is reaching into elementary and secondary schools.
Virtual courses have come into vogue at the third level education where many college students can log on and take classes. You may know it better as distance learning. Now these virtual courses are reaching into the elementary and high school level with virtual schooling.
Advocates envision a future where traditional and virtual learning are blended together to give kids a broad education. Distance learning can connect kids to specialist courses or to other teachers or kids anywhere in the world. Classrooms can and have been connected to astronauts in space.
In the near term, the virtual classroom is fulfilling the needs of kids who are disabled, suspended, need extra help or are being home schooled. Advanced kids can take extra courses not available locally. Kids in rural areas have greater access to a larger variety of courses.
Concerns have been raised about the reduced socialization of kids who are enrolled in virtual schools. They argue that an essential part of traditional education is the physical interaction and socialization that takes place in school. This issue has also been raised with home schooling but with balanced socialization time, this concern is reduced.
In addition, distance learning advocates argue that kids are using virtual socialization already through computer, texting and instant messaging.
It seems clear that our kids will increasing be exposed to distance learning. Parents and teacher must sit up and take notice and decide for themselves how they will incorporate this aspect of learning into their lives.