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August 30, 2009

Online school – more than a fad

by Chris Lindholm

An August 19th New York Times article about a recently published 12 year study on virtual learning  highlights just how significant online learning has become.  The report indicates that average performance of students participating in virtual learning is higher than the comparative group – those who did not.  The study weighs higher education more heavily than k-12, however data from k-12 learning was included in the study. 

“The study’s major significance lies in demonstrating that online learning today is not just better than nothing — it actually tends to be better than conventional instruction,” said Barbara Means, the study’s lead author and an educational psychologist at SRI International.

Regier is quoted in the article stating that he believes recent social networking technologies will accelerate the trend towards more and more online learning.  I couldn't agree more Mr. Regier.  The impact of these technological advances on student behavior and American culture is historically significant and education is not isolated from these changes.  Students, parents, and communities are connected more and more with real time communication and indeed, this kind of connectivity often enhances learning.  Instead of resisting these changes as a distractor from education, we educators must embrace the richness of collaborative learning and the use of technology to facilitate it.  That, after all, is the real world today and our students understand this very clearly.  Don't know the answer to a question?  Post it to your Facebook wall, Google it, Wiki it, or just shoot a text out to a few smart buddies.  They understand that Wiki is more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica…

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