Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why Online Learning?

Aside from flexibility for the student or teacher, another rationale for establishing online learning solutions that provide credit for courses taken and also count towards attendance (butts in seats):

WASHINGTON - Closing schools and day care centers because of swine flu could cost between $10 billion and $47 billion, a report by the Brookings Institution think tank found.

The government is urging schools to close only as a last resort, such as when large numbers of kids or staffers come down with swine flu.

But in the month since classes began, many schools have closed. As of Monday, there had been at least 187 school dismissals across the country affecting at least 79,678 students, the Education Department said.

The report also said:

  • The cost of mass school closures in selected cities would be $65 million for Washington, D.C., $1.1 billion for New York City and $1.5 billion for Los Angeles County.
  • Mass school closures would cause 12 percent of workers to be absent; absenteeism could be higher in lower-income households with only one worker.
  • The value of lost class time is estimated to be $6.1 billion.

Hmmm, lost class time. Now I realize students being sick may affect their learning capacity, but an agile online learning environment will reach out technologically to meet their needs across a variety of online content delivery methods. Schools undoubtedly will close when threshold volumes of sick students OR teachers are encountered, however perfectly healthy students are displaced from the physical classrooms by being forced to stay home until the "all clear" is sounded.

The loss of instructional capability in the physical realm can be offset by a virtual classroom that is delivered online.

The utilization of the virtual solution by teachers and students naturally is interactive. If the online learning environment had all aspects digital, then the instructional component, assessment and grading could all occur electronically and never descend from the digital media. The course still progresses despite the physical school being dark.

No more "I forgot my homework at home" or "the printer was out of ink". I'll fore go time honored excuse of the domesticated canine consuming the wood pulp-based homework submissions.

Matt Mello, Director of Technology, Holly Area Schools

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