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Things You MUST Think About: Online Learning


This is the eighth in a promised gloss on each of the 11 THINGS INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS MUST BE THINKING ABOUT featured in an earlier post. (I recap the entire list below the body of this post.)

#8. Online learning

You don’t have to be creating your own online learning department, but you need to think about how online learning fits into your school’s, and your students’, program. Classes on line have advantages and disadvantages, and the so-called blended and “flipped classroom” models—in which students experience instruction out of class in a virtual environment and then use classroom time to rehearse, troubleshoot, or apply their learning—are going to become more and more the model for many types of courses in many schools.

Independent schools should be alert to the trend in public school systems to require set numbers of online courses for high school graduation. Whether this is about cost-saving or preparing students for further 21st-century learning may be a matter for debate, but the time may be coming when experiences in online classes will regarded as a positive and even necessary good by those who evaluate schools and kids—like prospective parents and college admission offices.

Even if you decide not to jump on the online learning bandwagon through school-created courses or as part of a consortium of schools or teachers—like the Online School for Girls, the Global Online Academy or even the Online Progressive unSchool—you are probably going to have to decide how and whether online courses taken by individual student initiative are going to figure in relation to your school programs, requirements, and credit structures.

The Online School for Girls, incidentally, also offers a range of professional development courses geared toward independent schools and independent school teachers interested in developing online-learning expertise or simply in expanding professional capacity.

So, who is thinking about online learning at your school?

The 11 Things:

  1. Design Thinking. What-ing? DONE HERE
  2. Data-informed decision-making DONE HERE
  3. Collaborative learning and (related issue) project design DONE HERE
  4. Smart assessment of student learning DONE HERE
  5. Social media—for advancement DONE HERE
  6. Social media—in the classroom DONE HERE
  7. New directions for your library DONE HERE
  8. Online learning DONE
  9. Strategic professional development learning
  10. Shorter horizons for strategic thinking
  11. Being Green
1 Comment
  1. This is a challenging one. I know from my work online as a blogger and a video maker (youtube user ABWatt) that there’s an enormous amount of benefit that can come from being an online personality.

    BUT. But it turns out that there is evidence that pen-and-paper writing actually increases brain activity ( in part because it requires considerably more fine motor control than keyboarding.

    I also know that being online is not enough. We really have to do a better job across the board of teaching kids to be digital – creators of content, and not merely consumers of content. It’s hard to do that, because it means that we as the teachers have a) let go of some expectations about content learning, and b) let go of some expectations around skills. The skill that student A learns while making a video are not going to be the skills that student B learns while making a video. And the research and writing skills that underly both videos are not learned just by being online.