The digital information age has made it easier for students to access instruction, regardless of their location, personal circumstances, or the type of schooling they’re involved in. For example, online learning through virtual high schools, podcasts, and other kinds of educational websites can connect students who live in remote areas with other students and teachers. They can create the sense of a real classroom by using discussion boards, real-time chat functions, and Skype to further their discussion of the course material while building a sense of community.
Online learning is also a good option for home-schooled students and students seeking alternative educational experiences (such as those students who have had difficulty adapting to mainstream schools); often, students are able to set their own learning pace as they explore interactive learning modules. Schrum and Levin (2009) note that the dropout rates for online students tends to be higher than in regular schools. However, this issue is being addressed by educators in creative ways; for example, one school created a monitored online study hall for online students to seek help from teachers and complete their work in a more structured environment.
Oblender’s research found that this level of support rose the completion level of online classes to over 80% (Schrum & Levin, 2009). With more school districts considering adding online courses to their curriculum, it’s worth questioning how this shift in educational methods may change the face of the modern classroom over the next decade, especially considering that it’s much less expensive to run online classes than a traditional brick-and-board school.
Schrum, L. & Levin, B.B. (2009). Leading 21st century schools: Harnessing technology