Running Head: ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 1 Online High School-Issues and Solutions Author Institution November 24, 2010 ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 2 Abstract As technology increases and continues to make life more convenient for people, when does society draw the line? Just because the capability is available does not mean we as a society have to embrace it. Most technological advances are very helpful and add to better efficiency, however, with high school courses being offered online we must consider the idea of this technology not being beneficial to our students and their education.
With extensive research and some first-hand accounts from online students, we see there are many issues that arise with online high school courses. Solutions to these issues are not easy, but with careful consideration, solutions do exist. ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 3 For several years now, many college students and adults have enjoyed the convenience of taking college courses online via the internet. This has allowed individuals who either work full time, or are unable to attend traditional college classes the ability to obtain a college degree around their schedule.
While this has been a big success, more recently online courses are being offered to high school students and in some cases, even younger students. Most people agree that a person furthering their education beyond a high school diploma takes a lot of self motivation. A student being able to complete courses online takes an even greater amount of self motivation. This raises the question of “Are high school students mature enough and motivated enough to succeed in online schooling? ” Therefore, should online courses and diplomas be offered to high school tudents? The complex issue of online courses being offered to high school students actually consists of several smaller issues. First of all, should all students have the opportunity to take online courses? As parents and educators, we cannot in good faith allow a student that would ultimately fail in online schooling to take that path. Currently, any student can attend an online high school, regardless of previous performance. Another smaller issue is the amount of social time online students would get with their peers.
While most online schools offer chat rooms and social networking, most online students miss out on traditional school activities like prom and homecoming. Issues such as accreditation and quality of education arise. Parents and students are responsible to do the research to ensure the online school the student attends has the proper accreditation in order to attend most colleges and universities. There is currently not a standard in place that online schools must follow to be sure the students are getting the equivalent ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 4 education of a traditional high school.
These issues, as well as a few more, must be resolved in order to determine if high school students should be able to obtain a diploma online. Online high school impacts a number of people, most of all the students. The demands and pressures of online schooling could have a very negative impact on students not capable of performing well in those circumstances. As well as the students, the parents and siblings can be affected. Many parents already feel the pressure to allow their children to do some things “everyone else” is doing, and online schooling will quickly fall into that category.
While one child in the family may thrive in an independent school setting, other siblings may not and would feel it is not fair. Instructors and school staff are impacted by this issue also. As the number of online students increases, the need for quality teachers and schools will decrease. The issue of online high school exists throughout our country as well as the world. It exists in our education systems, our communities, and in our homes. As mentioned earlier, high school courses and diplomas offered online is a young concept, and have just recently become relevant.
Not only does this make it difficult to understand the issues, but equally as difficult to find quality solutions. Although this issue has not existed for a long period of time, online high schools are rapidly growing more popular. According to the International Association for K-12 Learning Online, roughly 100,000 of the 12 million high-school-age students in the U. S. attend 438 different online schools full time compared to 30,000 just five years ago (The Wall Street Journal, September 24, 2009). The number of online students has the potential to grow exponentially in the next few years. ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 5
Fortunately, most current online students are enrolled in these courses because they are exceptional learners and want to be challenged by a broader range of courses and a more difficult curriculum. Unfortunately, the issue of online high school exists because some parents and students feel traditional schools are not individualized enough and are inconvenient. Some parents put more importance on their own convenience than their child’s education. As popularity grows, the idea of not following the curriculum at the school in their community and instead choosing their own curriculum could be the major reason for choosing online school.
Other reasons such the student not wanting to follow the traditional schedule or issues with teachers could become the basis for choosing online schooling. As popularity increases, these issues need to be resolved and regulations formed to keep students from possible failure. There are several pros and cons that are associated with online high schools that need to be discussed in order to develop a solution to these issues. Most of the benefits deal with the students being able to work at their own pace, flexibility in schedule, and a more individualized curriculum.
The main disadvantages pertain to the lack of fun social elements, mastering a subject with limited teacher involvement, and focusing on completing work without a teacher present. Looking at these pros and cons, online high school would be a valuable option for students capable of working independently, but students not capable of working independently could fail easily. The majority of high school students are not responsible enough to maintain good school performance on their own. With less structure, less accountability, and more distractions, most high school students would not be successful learning online on their own.
ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 6 Many opponents of online high school worry about the lack of social interaction. They feel that students learn valuable social skills by interacting with peers, and more importantly, the instructors. With computers being major part of everyday life, proponents of online schooling feel students are gaining valuable experience for their future. However, these skills can be learned in a traditional setting, as well as through the number of online social activities students participate in during their free time.
Tatyana Ray, a former student of an online high school affiliated with Stanford University, said “Socially, it wasn’t working, I felt I was missing out” (The Wall Street Journal, September 24, 2009). Even though some exceptional learners would benefit from online courses, they need to be a part of something bigger. A small range of possible solutions exists for the issue of offering online high school to high school students. Currently, there are not any regulations or criteria for a student to opt out of traditional high school and enroll online.
In order to justify a solution to this issue, certain criteria must be established for possible solutions. An acceptable solution must not be a big financial burden on either traditional schools or online schools. Secondly, the solution must incorporate the advantages of online schooling with the advantages of traditional schooling. Is it possible for the solution to be convenient for both? Is there a fair solution; one that gives everyone involved what they want? Is one solution easier to implement and transition into? Is it safe and efficient? Is the solution compatible with what society has accepted?
All competing solutions must be analyzed and special circumstances need to be taken into consideration before a solution is proposed. All of these questions and more need to be answered in order to develop an acceptable solution. ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 7 One possible solution to the issue of online high school is to not offer it at all. Anyone under the age of twenty-one is not eligible to participate in any online high school courses or diplomas at all. Courses and classes could still be taken, but they would be on an extracurricular basis and only contribute to the individual’s own knowledge, not towards a diploma.
This solution would eliminate the smaller issue of choosing which high school students are eligible to participate in online schooling. This solution would also eliminate pressure on the parents to give their children something they are not mature enough to handle. Another advantage to this solution is the issue of socialization and extracurricular activities. With all high school students required to attend a traditional high school, there would be equal opportunity to participate in sports and other events such as prom and homecoming.
Currently, the main restriction on students attending online high school is the cost. Most online high schools are a lot more expensive than public schools which could create an unequal education system. Public education might begin to suffer if the majority of students were from low income families. Without the option of online high school all students would receive the same education. This might enforce the education system to perform at the highest level for the benefit of the best students, rather than allowing the better students an alternative.
Trying to eliminate high school online would be a very difficult solution to actually impose. There would likely be legal issues regarding students’ rights as well as the rights of the online institutions. Not only may there be legality issues, but many students and parents would oppose the proposed solution. While eliminating the online option altogether resolves some of the issues pertaining to equality and social interaction, it also limits those students that are capable of exceeding normal ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 8 expectations.
Online schooling does have many benefits and eliminating it completely is not the answer. Another possible solution is to integrate online high school courses with the current traditional high schools. This solution would include a mixture of online courses with traditional courses to complete the curriculum. Students would have the option to attend their high school and take some courses in the traditional classroom as well as take some courses online. The online courses would be offered by the actual high school the student attends, and could be taken on campus or at home.
The traditional high school would be offering the courses and would be in charge of maintaining and grading these courses. As a possible solution, this also resolves the issue of social interaction between students and participation in extracurricular activities. With this solution, students have more flexibility and options regarding their level of performance in online courses. Students that feel they are capable of performing well independently could choose to participate in their online course at home, while students that struggle working independently could take their online courses at the school.
This possible solution would be available to all students until their performance began to decline. This solution would make it easier for the school districts to maintain control of the curriculum and accurately track students’ performance. However, this solution still limits the students to only being able to take courses offered by that particular high school. It would be difficult for a traditional school to offer all the thousands of different courses available online and exceptional students would again not have the option of exceeding normal expectations.
ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 9 A final possible solution to the issue of online high school is to offer online courses and diplomas in a traditional school setting. The current high schools in the community could offer online schooling to students, but those students would still attend the actual school in their community. The student and parents would still be able to choose the online school they attended, however, rather than taking the courses online at home, the student would take the courses online in the traditional school in a computer lab or library.
Instructors would be onsite and available to help students with questions, take roll, and hold the students accountable for their work. This solution provides possible solutions to the other smaller issues of online high school such as extracurricular activities, social interaction, and responsibility. The issue of physical education would be resolved by an actual gym course taken on site. With the students able to choose their own online school, they would be able to individualize their interests and work at their own pace, however, they would be held accountable to be in class everyday and learn in a structured environment.
This solution could be offered as an incentive program for either all high school students, or just juniors and seniors. As an incentive program, it would encourage good attendance as well as good grades to be able to participate. This solution would be easy to implement, as current online students could continue to attend their online high school, only at their local high school rather than at home. It would also make it easy for students to transition either from traditional high school to online high school, or from online to traditional schooling.
Since students are actually attending the high school in ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL 10 their community, they would be eligible to participate in all the extracurricular activities as well as socialize with the other students and instructors. In the beginning, the traditional schools would be required to make a financial investment to provide rooms and equipment for online students, but with the increased enrollment this investment would be returned in the future.
Online schools would benefit financially as well in the fact that they would not need the staff or resources needed to help the students with their courses. As the solution with the most advantages for everyone involved, the least disadvantages, and being the most compatible with current conditions the best solution is to continue to offer online courses and diplomas to high school students, however, require them to be completed in a traditional high school. Online high school is such a new issue that any changes or solutions could affect the future in a big way.
Is learning online the future, or is it the demise of education? The issue of learning online is difficult to examine because of the many different variables and circumstances. Online learning is a valuable tool and should be used by everyone capable of using it. The question is “Are high students capable, and if so, which ones? ” As the idea of online high school grows in popularity, regulations need to be in place to keep many students form failing. Offering online high school in a structured environment is the best resolution. References
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