Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Four Keys to a Successful Online Program

A follow up to yesterday's blog about increased access to free online education; this article discusses the keys to a successful online program. They are pretty straightforward:
  1. The acquisition of mission-critical tools that foster collaboration and enable effective communication;
  2. The implementation of a flexible, focused curriculum that can be tailored to the individual student;
  3. The relevant, timely, and in-depth training of all stakeholders, including administrators, teachers, and parents; and,
  4. The development of an immediate, effective technical and academic support system.
I am not sure that most online providers have these four systems down; our experience with K12 (one of the providers quoted in the article) was that they were not flexible with regard to curriculum, and the actual instruction was simply regular public school in the sense that the instruction was focused squarely on the middle students. The technical support system was great (K12 will provide a computer and a printer for students who need it, all for free through several public systems across the country), but overall, had I not been a teacher, the year would have been a wash, with The Kid completing grinding hours of work in front of a computer, churning out useless repetitive worksheets and exploring an inch of each subject.

Still, my professional learning network on Twitter (@HoneyFernDotOrg) is doing great things in the classroom, inlcuding mystery Skype sessions with other classes across the country, helping their kids design videogames and "flipping" their classes; Edmodo and Moodle and other online platforms are more conducive to collaboration, and Google+ offers tools, too. I am still not totally convinced that all online is the way to go, but there are inroads.

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