The Pros and Cons of Virtual Schools
While I tried to be as objectionable as possible in the following section, it was difficult. Please keep in mind that my personal bias will be reflected in the points for and against virtual schooling.
- Students at virtual schools can learn at any time and any place. They can also do it on almost any subject they wish.
- Students enjoy using the internet to create up-to-date, real-life projects that are tailored to their own learning styles.
- Students enjoy the interactivity of having student-to-student electronic peer work groups.
- Virtual schools often give formalized course descriptions and assessment for the classes so students know exactly what the school expects of them. The also appreciate being able to see how far they have progressed by viewing their online portfolios.
- Students in virtual schools often benefit from the age and geographic diversity of students in the classroom. Through this students come in contact with people they otherwise would never have met.
- Students who are home bound or have medical conditions can participate.
- Technology is ‘blind’ so there are no racial or cultural barriers.
- Learners from rural areas can have the wide selection of courses usually only available to students in large suburban or urban schools.
“The virtual school offers endless possibilities.” –Kevin Roy, director of education for the Elite TNT Tennis Academy in Montgomery, Texas (reference site)
- Not all students can adapt to virtual schooling. Students have to be good readers and the online program may lack the auditory support found in traditional classes. Similarly, not all teachers can adapt to virtual learning.
- Students have to be very self-motivated and may not be sufficiently self-reliant or organized to keep track of their own work on their computer. Others may lack good keyboarding skills or need the socialization a physical school provides to act as motivation.
- Students pursuing the performing arts or higher-level science courses will find that virtual schools cannot meet their goals.
- Some families may not be able to handle the financial burden of paying for virtual schooling, as it requires, at minimum, the purchase of a computer, modem and the Internet. Some virtual schools also require other equipment including special courseware, videoconferencing software and camera, or CD-ROM player.
- Not all local schools will accept course credits from virtual schools.
- Child-development experts say that the overuse of technology results in social, and sometimes physical problems for children when they are exposed to too much technology too soon.
- Technology can still be unreliable at times. Computer problems ranging from viruses, internet connections not working properly and corrupted disk drives, result in frustration and late assignments.
“If you let your child be educated by a machine, don't be surprised if what comes out isn't totally human.” - Jane M. Healy, an educational psychologist ( reference site )
Obviously virtual schooling is not best for everyone, nor for every course. I personally feel that a mixture of virtual schooling and traditional schooling would be very beneficial for the average student. In my opinion, the two largest drawbacks of virtual schooling are the over reliance on technology and the social development implications that could result from over usage. I myself have experienced technology woes with my online course, as have many of my classmates.
That being said, there are definite good points about virtual schooling, specifically the fact that it allows students to continue their education even if they are experiencing any kind of extenuating circumstances, such as chronic illness. Online learning also gives students a chance to come in contact with people the otherwise would have never met.
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