Saturday, May 23, 2009

'Virtual Schooling' gaining ground?

I've been watching the growing phenomenon of 'Virtual Schooling' for a few years now. It's a combination of home-schooling and traditional education. Students are home-based, but study online with accredited teachers through regular schools. They can mix-and-match their curricula to their needs and interests, and have professional help online, by telephone or through regular meetings when they need it.

I see it as the solution to many of the problems of home-schooling, where time and effort may be lacking, because it forced the students to adhere to a given timetable and be responsible to outside authorities. At the same time, it seems far better than the rigid, often over-secularized curricula and politically-correct agendas of many school systems. It may be the best (and avoid the worst) of both worlds. It costs a bit more than traditional home-schooling systems, but is far cheaper on a cost-per-student basis than most public school systems.

The indispensable Al Fin has just published a brief overview of the situation. He points out an advantage of 'virtual schooling' that I'd not thought about.

One interesting development in online education at college level, is the free access offering of selected Kaplan Higher Education courses as part of the Open Courseware Consortium. As the open courseware movement expands, options for free online learning will grow. And that should open the door for more independent certification organisations that can test and certify students for the benefit of potential employers and learning institutions.

College students can also use free online courses as preparation for challenging courses via test, or for taking knowledge assessment exams for college credit. Students could easily test out of a year or more of college using these free online courses.

There's more at the link.

If you have kids, or have friends who have kids, this is a very worthwhile educational option to explore, IMHO. I did two of my four University qualifications through distance education, back in the days when the World Wide Web wasn't a reality, and only paper- and telephone-based communications were possible. If I'd had this sort of online study assistance, those degrees would have been much more interesting and enjoyable, I think, and perhaps more rapidly completed too. If the Internet education revolution flows down to school level, I'm all in favor.



Ami said...

I think it's important to note that schooling offered through school districts, no matter where the student spends the majority of his or her time is NOT homeschooling.

It's public school, GRTF. (Government run, taxpayer funded.)

It's not that there's anything wrong with it if a person chooses to exercise that option, but it is not homeschooling.

I love the trend of some colleges and universities offering courses online, too.

Miz Minka said...

My last summer and fall college semesters were 100% online, half of the current spring semester classes were online, and the summer session will be entirely online again as well. I love it. If you're disciplined, online studying is a breeze -- and it saves gas money too. Right now we're sitting at around $2.50 here in Califreakia, so any day I don't have to drive to school saves me money.

I had never heard of OCWC, thank you so much for posting about that. I checked out their site and felt like a kid in a candy store!! :D