Is Online Education as Effective as Face-to-Face Teaching?

A U.S. Department of Education study estimated that there are 200,000 K-12 students from 40 states involved in virtual education.  In a 2009 Department study, K-12 students did as well or better in online learning classes as in a traditional classroom.

The state of Colorado expects to spend $8.5 million on educating 14,200 students.  The states online school industry is growing by 12 percent because of the government pays private companies to teach student starting in kindergarten via computers with little state Department of Education oversight.  This despite a 2010 state department of education report that showed below-average test scores, dropout rates near 50 percent in some schools and a student=to=teacher ratio as high as 317 to 1 in one school. Online schools get paid for an entire school year even if a student drops out after October 1, the date that the state counts student enrollment.

Idaho and Florida have passed laws requiring high school students to take at least one course online.

Online schools have certain advantages:

  • they allow students to proceed at their own pace;
  • they are cheaper to operate than traditional schools;
  • they free up time during the regular school year for students to take college credit courses or to take online classes in such thing as SAT prep.

At the same time, there are disadvantages to them as well:

  • students do not get feedback on their work;
  • there is little student-to-teacher interaction;
  • students who get credit for the course or the tests may not be the same student who is registered for the class credit.
  • some online schools are more interested in the monies involved rather than the education received.

I do not believe that “one-size-fits-all and will support any and all programs designed to get students across the graduation finish line.  I support virtual education where it meets the criteria of helping students graduate and thriving.