Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: Does Cyber Classes work for all students?

Are cyber classes right for your child? I know each teen is different in their learning abilities, and some do very well with virtual classes. Here is an informational article with parenting tips on Cyber Classes from Connect with Kids.

Source: Connect with Kids

Cyber Classes

“There’s much more personal interaction and intervention, because the learning in very individualized.”

– Wendy Metcalf, Online Campus Administrator

Over one million students were enrolled in online courses last year, that according to the Sloan Consortium, a non-profit research group. Each year, the number of kids studying in the virtual world grows, which creates challenges for them and their parents.

18-year-old Andrew is one of the trailblazers of this new dimension of learning. He’s taking a language arts class on his home computer, for high school credit.

“It’s getting me ahead,’ says Andy. “I plan on graduating in December, first semester.”

This is the future of education. In the last three years, the number of students taking online high school courses has grown by almost 50 percent.

Some, like Andy, want to graduate early. “And then we have the other type of student,” says Online Campus Administrator Wendy Metcalf, “who possibly failed a course, and wants to get back on track for graduation.”

But if students think they’ll breeze through a cyber class, they’re in for a surprise. “It takes a lot of discipline,” says Andy. There is no classroom, no bell at the beginning of class, and that means, “You’ve got to get on the computer, and you’ve got to get your stuff turned in.”

But what if your child’s attention strays? That’s where parents play an important role. “Parental involvement is really important,” says Ms. Metcalf, “because they really act as the adult that’s supervising the learning, because the students are at home.”

So with attentive parents and disciplined children, there are definite advantages to cyber classes. Ms. Metcalf stresses, “There’s much more personal interaction, because the learning is very individualized.”

Andy agrees, “It’s a great opportunity for me. I learn a lot.”

Tips for Parents

In 1999, Congress established the Web-based Education Commission. The 16-member body was charged with exploring and maximizing educational opportunities of the Internet for all students, from pre-K to post-secondary. Their findings structured the foundation that allows public school systems to use federal monies to fund online learning programs.

Websites are no longer static; today’s technology enables an interactive environment when online. Streaming media technology provides real time and in-demand distribution of learning materials. Streaming sites also receive feedback from students, thus creating an optimum learning cycle. Some benefits of online learning include the following:

•Online learning gives cost-effective resources to rural educators and others with limited means.
•Students with special needs often find greater educational advancement through online learning.
•Online courses avoid many scheduling conflicts by providing convenience and flexibility. lists schools worldwide that offer online educational opportunities. As a parent, there are many elements to look for when considering your child’s enrollment in an online course. Among the questions you should ask are:

•Does an established, traditional school run the online course?
•Does the teaching staff have sufficient knowledge about the subject?
•How is the teaching staff held accountable for their work?
•What is the student-to-teacher ratio? The Distance Learning Resource Center recommends this ratio be between 25:1 and 8:1.
•Does the course provide student-to-teacher interaction?
•Does the course provide student-to-student interaction?
•Is the class structured with a specific start and end date or is the completion time flexible?
•Does your child have time available each week to devote to this class?
•What portion of the tuition is refunded if the course is dropped?
•How are assignments made? The Distance Learning Resource Center recommends essays and projects over multiple-choice formats.
•Are assignments submitted electronically or by hard copy?
•Is the class taught using textbooks or software?
•Will your child’s current school accept an online course as a substitute for a traditional class?
•Will the college(s) your child plans to attend accept the online class as a legitimate high school course for college admission?

•CBS MarketWatch
•Distance Learning Resource Network
•Web-based Education Commission
•Virtual High Schoo

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