Online education can bring learners together to create a global learning community!
Image retrieved from http://www.woboe.org
Online learning is, in my opinion, the future of education. I have taken online classes sporadically during my undergraduate work, and exclusively for my graduate work. I have enjoyed online learning from a student viewpoint, and am also interested in exploring the option of teaching online at some point.
The first resource that I found is Diane Ravitch (@DianeRavitch). Diane Ravitch is an education blogger from Brooklyn, NY. While she isn't necessarily for or against technology use in the classroom, she obviously has reservations about the idea of online classrooms. In a blog post entitled "Why the Demand for Virtual Charter Schools" (Ravitch, 2012, July 18), Ravitch states, "The demand for virtual schools is a sure indicator of the dumbing down of the American public and the triumph of American capitalism at its greediest." She worries that for-profit schools will put money before a quality education, which should be a genuine concern when transitioning to this blossoming mode of learning. Ravitch does value incorporating technology into lessons (Ravitch, 2012, July 20), but worries that placing students in isolated environments and leaving them to learn solely online will make it difficult for them to thrive. As a proponent of online learning, these strike me as valuable observations that the online learning community cannot and should not ignore. If we want online learning and technology based education to succeed, we need to be sure that we are addressing student needs in the most beneficial way possible and keeping the motives for online schools in mind when making choices about online learning.
The second resource I found is Andrew Miller (@betamiller). Miller is an online educator and advocate for virtual learning. While he supports the idea that online learning is valuable and effective, he does acknowledge that there are pitfalls to online learning but offers ways to stray from ineffective learning models. In an article for the Huffington Post, Miller states that, "It is important that we venture down the path of blended learning, that we're actually doing blended learning, that we're clear in our model, and that we share common language." (Miller, 2013) Rather than focusing on 100% online learning, he suggests that education takes the flipped classroom approach and integrates both online and brick-and-mortar learning. He also cautions that, "We cannot replicate a broken system, and there are many challenges we need to overcome if we're going to ensure that we do not." (Miller, 2011) This quote struck me as vital when considering online education. Ineffective methods from a traditional classroom should not be replicated online; we need to grow and improve upon methods of learning that are shown to improve student learning.
Finally, the third resource I found is called Digital Learning Now (@DigLearningNow, #DigLN). DigLN is a national movement to improve policies in online education. If I can be honest, I have very little interest in educational policy. I see the value in being interested in educational policies, but it just doesn't interest me enough for me to invest much time in it. To me, it has always seemed like a lot of talk, but very little action. That said, DigLN seems to be a resource that could be an almost pain-free way for me to take steps towards learning more about educational policy, especially since they focus on a topic that is of interest to me. They frequently post articles and research to their Twitterfeed, providing quick tidbits of information that I can sort through easily. Maybe if I dip my toes in a bit more, I might actually come to enjoy educational policy (maybe)!
Miller, A. K. (2011, August 8). Online Education: A Word of Caution. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-k-miller/online-education_b_921666.html
Ravitch, D. (2012, July 18). Why the Demand for Virtual Charter Schools [Blog]. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/18/why-the-demand-for-virtual-charter-schools/
Ravitch, D. (2012, July 20). The Trouble with Online Education [Blog]. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/20/the-trouble-with-online-education/
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!