Home > Distance Education, Teaching & Learning > More Pupils Are Learning Online, Fueling Debate on Quality

More Pupils Are Learning Online, Fueling Debate on Quality

By Trip Gabriel

Jack London was the subject in Daterrius Hamilton’s online English 3 course. In a high school classroom packed with computers, he read a brief biography of London with single-paragraph excerpts from the author’s works. But the curriculum did not require him, as it had generations of English students, to wade through a tattered copy of “Call of the Wild” or “To Build a Fire.” Mr. Hamilton, who had failed English 3 in a conventional classroom and was hoping to earn credit online to graduate, was asked a question about the meaning of social Darwinism. He pasted the question into Google and read a summary of a Wikipedia entry. He copied the language, spell-checked it and e-mailed it to his teacher.

Mr. Hamilton, 18, is among the expanding ranks of students in kindergarten through grade 12 — more than one million in the United States, by one estimate — taking online courses. Advocates of such courses say they allow schools to offer not only makeup courses, the fastest growing area, but also a richer menu of electives and Advanced Placement classes when there are not enough students to fill a classroom. But critics say online education is really driven by a desire to spend less on teachers and buildings, especially as state and local budget crises force deep cuts to education. They note that there is no sound research showing that online courses at the K-12 level are comparable to face-to-face learning.

Continued at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/education/06online.html?ref=education

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