Monday, February 16, 2015

Virtual schools: Concept v Implementation

Virtual (cyber, online) schooling has the potential to bring a high-quality education to any child, anywhere. It can democratize education by allowing children of any demographic the ability to access a learning experience tailored more to their learning style, and help them reach their full potential. It removes geographic barriers and opens up new avenues of learning for children.

Over the past 15 years the implementation of this concept has gone awry for various reasons (not everywhere and not every school though). But, it doesn't mean the concept of virtual schooling should be tossed aside, dismissed, or unfairly criticized.

Critique it, adapt it, adjust it, improve it, modify it -- yes, do all of these things. However, start first by understanding it. Understand what it can do, who it can serve, and who should be part of it.

It's not for every child just because every child has access to it -- that's not a negative on the child it just means a different approach is better for them (whether they are struggling or considered "gifted").

It's not for every teacher just because they have the credentials -- that's not a negative on the teacher it just means their abilities and talents are best applied in another setting.

It's not a solution for every educational problem. However, it can provide a strong solution to some (perhaps many) of them. Let's look for alternative solutions to the problems it cannot solve.

And finally, let's separate the concept of virtual schools from the implementation of virtual schools. The concept is a revolutionary one, and revolutionary concepts sometimes take time to be fully realized.

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