What Are we seeing with this trend?
What we are seeing with the trend of virtual schooling is that
many schools are implementing online learning into their curriculum, and there are also an increasing number of on-line only schools across the country. The internet is a vast source of knowledge, and through the implementation of virtual schools and online learning programs, students and teachers alike have access to more resources online than they would in an actual classroom. The goal for online learning is that students can receive a more personalized education that can be tailored to meet their individual needs, whether those needs be a more rigorous curriculum, flexibility for a busy schedule, or a feeling of safety that the student may not feel that he/she is getting from his/her traditional school. For some students, online schooling is a better option than traditional schooling, since they can learn at their own pace and have access to more opportunities for learning online.
Another trend with online learning is that more and more traditional schools are implementing online learning opportunities in conjunction with traditional classroom instruction, so these schools are using virtual schooling more as an addendum to traditional learning.
My Perspective on Virtual Schooling:
I am skeptical of the virtual schooling trend especially because of the implications it has for teaching mathematics. Mathematics has a stigma of not being very collaborative. Many people see math as an independent activity, when in fact math can be very collaborative when it is taught effectively. In math, students learn more when they have the opportunity to share their problem-solving with their peers and have the opportunity to construct arguments to defend their ideas and critique the reasoning of others. Though it is possible to foster collaboration in an online classroom format, it is much more difficult to do so than to collaborate in an actual classroom. I fear that teaching mathematics in an online format can make learning math even more isolating that it is already viewed as being.
Though you may learn the same things content-wise in a virtual school and an actual school, the way you interact others is very different. I think that one downfall of virtual schooling is that you don’t get the opportunity for in-person social interaction that you get in an actual school. When you attend school online, there is an obstacle of both physical and literal distance between every other person in your class, since you don’t meet face-to-face with your class or your instructor. In the younger grades especially, human social interaction is so important in the development of social skills.
Another drawback of virtual schooling is that low-income families might not always have the option to attend a virtual school, as they don’t have access to a computer or some other device with internet access at home.
While I agree that there is so much information available online that you can learn using a virtual schooling format, there is also a lot that you can learn in an actual classroom setting. For this reason, I favor traditional school over a virtual school setting. I think that virtual school is the best option for students in certain situations, but it is not ideal for everyone.
Since I am skeptical of virtual schooling, I am interested in learning more about the benefits of virtual schooling. I am especially interested in how a proponent of virtual schooling would defend the critique that virtual schooling can inhibit social interaction.