After reading Sophie's post earlier today, this article in The Washington Post caught my eye. School officials in Fairfax County, which is located in the D.C. region, are considering creating a virtual public high school. The Post writes:
No sports teams. No pep rallies. No lockers, no hall passes. Instead, assignments delivered on-screen and after-school clubs that meet online.
It's a reimagination of the American high school experience.
Which raises a new angle in the debate over online education. It's not just about costs and how well students can learn from home, it's about a whole new experience. How important is it for kids to physically share classroom space and have experiences like pep rallies and prom? Would community organizations take the place of those run by high schools?
The superintendent still sees a role for physical meetings, even if the school offers the possibility of full-time online enrollment.
"It's hard to do marching band online," [Jack D.] Dale said. "Kids are going to pop in and out of the virtual school. They'll just look at it as another method of taking a course, instead of face to face."
The state already has a public, full-time virtual program in Virginia Virtual Academy, according to The Post. But the idea of having a virtual school connecting residents of the same community strikes me as different from the state-wide model.
Under the proposal, teachers would be Fairfax employees working from home offices, corresponding by phone and e-mail, and occasionally meeting students face to face for orientation sessions and exams. Students and teachers would gather online for lessons about one-fifth of the time; otherwise, students would be able to design their schedules, working on assignments at their convenience.
Seems like a new twist, to have students geographically close enough to share some time but to do the bulk of the work outside the classroom. What do you think about this model?