online education, distance learning, debate

Debate Over Online Education Spurs Action

July 31, 2008 08:53 AM
by Christopher Coats
Faced with an increasingly wired student population, a movement of educators and innovators is testing the boundaries and possibilities of online education.

30-Second Summary

Emerging from a lengthy debate about the effectiveness of learning online, schools and individual classrooms have become laboratories for a variety of digital education experiments.

While some districts have embraced the idea of learning online to varying degrees, including schools launching entire Internet-based curriculum or virtual classrooms, many others have resisted incorporating technology into the educational setting.

Faced with critics who insist that online learning, in any capacity, is no match for personal intellectual contact and development, some schools have sought to balance the digital with the real world.

Further, opponents of online learning have cited the lack of an official method of measuring both the environment’s effectiveness and digital literacy.

Though the Educational Testing Service has begun administering the iSkills exam to gauge the latter, a lack of universal access to online material for lower income students has made the results unreliable in the eyes of some.

Much more prevalent at a university level, online learning has seen its use increase over the past years, with entire degree plans available through long-distance programs.

However, online learning programs at the K–12 level have encountered the greatest number of obstacles.

Meanwhile, a bustling economy has emerged to accommodate the online needs of everyone from individual teachers to state education department.

Headline Links: The state of online learning

Background: ‘Cost and Content Are Driving Educators Online’

Reactions: Education technology

Opinion & Analysis: Assessing the effectiveness of online learning

Related Topic: Universities online


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