Monday, April 11, 2011

K-12 Online Education: Merits and Demerits


Even if one Keeps aside parents’ complaint that their children are not getting proper attention at brick and mortar schools and are rendered ill-disposed towards learning , the need to establish online schools seems imperative. The reason is there are so many students who are not in a position to attend their schools regularly because they are earning for their families, feel stranded and bullied at the school, are involved in parenting or are so ill that they just can’t go there. Then there are those who did not pass a course and still want to earn credit.
Furthermore, due to the advancement in the field of educational technology and increase in the availability of  mobile phones and lap tops, the idea of having online education system seems a dream actualized.  With almost everyone having somekind of portable device mobile learning is likely to become the choice mode of learning. One can imagine what kind of a boast this new trend will bestow upon the business of portable device venders ,online course and learning experience developers, and educational technology experts.
According to the recent figures the number of those who are attending full time online school  has drastically increased, showing that students and parents are leaving the traditional brick and mortar schools, and opting online schools for k-12 education.
This changing trend will not only cut the costs but will also address the concerns of those parents who thought that their children were not motivated to attend the traditional school.
Although there are concerns over the efficacy of this new system in ensuring excellence for low achievers in traditional schools, it has successfully developed good dispositions in learners towards online learning experiences.
Recent buzz over Michigan State’s decision to cut K-12 budget due to the budgetary deficit is also being viewed in the light of this explosion of online learning. Even if the state budget for K-12 is drastically reduced, yet online education can take the place of affected educational institutions. Per student cost for online education is comparatively lower than that at brick and mortar schools. Some experts are viewing this increase in online schools as an attempt to save money that is spent each year on school districts.
Then there are people who think that online education can deteriorate the quality of education, because the chances that students will use tricks like plagiarism are great. Along with these demerits cited by certain experts, one obvious outcome of online schooling will surely be seen in the form of resistance from teachers’ community.
However, from a social constructivist point of view online education can provide a better experience to the learners. Unlike traditional schooling that relies on testing, online education is collaborative and favors group learning. Furthermore, in online learning students of different age group can become the members of a class, this surely helps in forming a mixed ability group. Furthermore, the basic ingredients of traditional educational experience like schedules, imposed discipline and teacher centeredness, will not be present in online education to make it a more desirable experience.


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