Friday, January 22, 2016

Socialization in virtual schools

The "lack of socialization" ranks as one of the top three answers given by parents who remove their kids from virtual schools.

Virtual schools scratch their heads because they point to all of the field trips (virtual and in-person), clubs, and activities they offer as evidence of plenty of opportunities to socialize.

And yet "socialization" continues to be a problem for virtual schools. In response, virtual schools typically offer more field trips, more clubs, and more activities to try to solve this dilemma.

Socialization is defined as "learning the customs, attitudes, and values of a social group, or community."

What if the parents say "socialization" but have a different definition in mind?

In my Virtual School Manifesto: Nine Essential Ingredients for a Successful Virtual School, I make the argument that students (and parents) are not seeking socialization. Rather, they are searching for what I term connectionalization.

One of my Essential Ingredients is for virtual schools to become Human Connection schools. Rather than focus on socializing, focus on connecting students.

Connecting is intimate, personal.

Socialization occurs in the all-class meetings. Connecting occurs in the hallways. It's organic, viral, and student-crafted.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat -- they all succeed because they help people connect. Virtual schools can and should do the same thing -- help students (and families) make connections.

Students want a place to belong. Belonging occurs when connections are made.

Don't add another field trip. Instead turn your field trips into connecting opportunities.

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