Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Online classes level playing field for rural schools

Online education is a strategy for leveling the playing field for rural schools, and some small Idaho districts are already latching on to that plan. "It’s second period at Notus Junior/Senior High School, and students in Trish Shelden’s room are learning everything from psychology to digital photography," Kristin Rodine of the Idaho Statesman reports. "Eighteen students sit at computers, and one bounces nearby on a small platform, taking PE via Wii." Most of Notus' 113 high school students spend at least one of their class periods taking an online course.

"With a slate of around 130 such courses available from the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, students can take electives little Notus can’t offer, make up for a class they failed or get a coveted course at a time that works for them," Rodine writes. Notus School District Superintendent Benjamin Merrill, who also serves as principal and football coach for Notus Junior/Senior High, notes, "This gives my kids the same opportunities as students at Eagle High School or Boise High School. We’ve been able to leverage our resources and level the playing field."

"Across Idaho, small rural districts have emerged as leaders in the use of online education," Rodine writes. "State schools Superintendent Tom Luna has praised their innovation as he moves toward requiring all Idaho students to take online classes before they graduate." The state has funded IDLA, which has a roster of part-time teachers, since 2003. "We had one student in Riggins who was able to receive 54 credits in post-secondary education before he even left high school," Mike Caldwell, academic director for IDLA, said. "For some districts, we’re the foreign language program."

Luna's proposed requirement would require all students beginning with freshmen in 2012 take six online credits before graduating. Not everyone is enthusiastic about the proposal, including Merrill, who has seen the benefits of online courses first-hand. "The need varies for every kid," Merrill told Rodine, "and that’s why I’m a little concerned about Superintendent Luna’s one-size-fits-all proposal. I’m not sure all of our students should be taking online classes." (Read more)


online school program said...

Online education revolutionized the way education can reach out to people who are interested in having education but couldn't due to location and limited access to offline schools such as disability and other personal reasons.

online high schools said...

IMO, For me the traditional classes will be time consuming and more expensive than online courses because of the physical nature of the class, the traveling expenses, and the cost of missed work that you might incur because of the training program’s schedule.