The future of school

After a couple of intense days at the T+L Conference, one thing is clear: the future of school includes some online courses.  That’s not to take anything away from teachers, or their ability to help our children learn and grow… but the way that’s accomplished is going to change.

It has to.  Already, schedule compression (more and more requirements, no more hours in the day) has reached the point where some students are forced to give things up, in order to fulfill requirements.  Once example of that is that Gamma will have to take economics next year, and to do so during the school day, she’ll either have to give up Orchestra (which she’s been in since 4th grade), or German IV (necessary for her to be able to take the AP test, which she very much wants to do), or Calculus (not an option).

I don’t consider any of those to be an acceptable trade-off, so I’m exploring the possibility of enrolling her in an online course through Roane State, which she could hopefully do over the Summer.  

I don’t know, but I’d be willing to bet that there are quite a few students faced with giving up something they’ve invested years in.  The reality is, you can’t take four years of a foreign language AND be in the band, orchestra, art, career academies, or any number of valuable classes, and still meet all the graduation requirements. 

What if we could offer online courses, to be completed at home, for things like Economics, Government, Personal Finance (a new requirement beginning next year), Wellness A (essentially, what we used to call "Health") and such?  Those are pretty standard classes, which most students could learn independently with the right online curriculum.

Further, what if we could waive the PE requirements (currently one semester, going up to two semesters next year) for those students who are part of school athletic teams, who already put in at least the same number of hours?

Next year, two more courses will be required for graduation (Personal Finance and PE).  In my opinion, we need to do something this year to prevent the schedule compression from getting worse.

There are already a lot of online courses developed that adhere to our State standards.   Partnering with community colleges, such as Roane State, is another option. 

I’ve gathered a lot of information, which I’ll link to in another post (when I can have all my papers and wireless access in the same place).  But for now, what do you think? 

5 Responses to “The future of school”

  1. on 29 Oct 2008 at 10:15 pm Punk HP

    I am sorry, but what you are advocating makes way too much sense. Lets say you have this overachieving kid, who is bored with regular curriculum. He or she could log on, maybe complete four or five extra classes in a school year, and possibly count toward college. Think about how summer online school could change a kids direction. Amazing possibilities for free thinkers. Good luck!

  2. on 30 Oct 2008 at 12:35 pm Mike

    I support adding online courses 100%. Courseware has came so far that it is even possible to sync on-line lectures to ipods. I am not necessarily advocating the use of ipods. Just saying the technology is fairly robust now.

    I also say Good Luck. You can count on my support!

  3. on 15 Nov 2008 at 2:42 pm Joel

    Another, not mutally exclusive, approach that has been bruited about some is allowing high school students to graduate at 16. For many college-bound kids, senior year is an unnecessary delay in getting on with the next stage. Or else, they’re already getting college credit, but housed in high school.

    My lovely and talented wife graduated ORHS with a full year of college credit, thanks to the fact that several high school courses were accredited by UT-K. This enabled her to finish UT in three years.

    My daughter graduated high school with a year’s worth of college credit through AP exams (her courses hadn’t been accredited by any University).

    Online is a good idea, but it isn’t the only idea. Summer courses have several advantages, IMO. Our daughter’s already take two since graduating high school so she can keep up her pre-med curriculum and still go to Costa Rica next spring.

  4. on 16 Nov 2008 at 7:57 am Netmom

    Good additions to the list, Joel. Currently, summer school classes (except Driver Ed and Trig) can only be taken to make up for a failed class, not for regular credit.

    However, the school board can change that. I think we need to.

  5. on 22 Dec 2008 at 7:40 am Ryan

    While online courses are the presumed wave of the future, I still think that learning is best done through personal interaction with a teacher. Additionally, assuming that a student is taking 4 or 5 AP classes, as well as being involved in a couple extracurricular activities, getting enough sleep is already difficult. Taking an online course during the regular school year would just exacerbate any sleep-deprivation.

    However, I think that expanding summer school offerings would be a rather efficient idea.

    Incidentally, the Oak Ridge Youth Symphony will be starting up this coming year (with auditions in early January if I recall) if your daughter is interested in building on her orchestra experience outside of school. I’d be happy to provide more information if you’d like.

    And Happy Holidays to you and your family!

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