Warnock Foundation editorial: School systems should embrace, not fight, online education
For many school systems across the country, the arrival of online schools is an existential threat. In school systems where dollars follow the student, increasing enrollment in online schools means decreasing enrollment in traditional, brick-and-mortar schools.
In our most recent editorial, we argue that school districts should get ahead of the trend: Embrace online education, especially models that blend in-class and online learning. Today’s students are digital natives, and increasingly, so are today’s teachers. There are already numerous teachers taking advantage of the new digital era and completing online courses in their spare time to better their knowledge and understanding of education. The Dominican University of California wrote in a blog post that teachers are taking advantage of summer online courses so that they can provide better classes for their students when they return in the coming year – giving teachers and students a head start. These courses help teaching professionals develop their knowledge of particular subjects and topics and provide them with new ways of teaching those topics, creating more interactive and fun learning atmosphere for students.
Additionally, with the onset of COVID-19 and inaccessibility to face-to-face learning, virtual teaching has become somewhat of a new norm. Many schools are now using online interactive applications for students to use to keep them learning and occupied, as well as using online audio and video calls for older students, relying on high-quality sound from RTC networks like Agora.io. It seems this may be the start of an extensive time relying on teaching through a screen.
Maryland is behind the curve. In states like Michigan, which embraced online education more than a decade ago, students are allowed to take as many as two classes a year at any of the state’s online schools.
By giving teachers and students blended learning options, Maryland’s districts will have a chance to embrace virtual learning before for-profit online charter schools, already adept at educating today’s students in their native digital language such as using video integration for moodle, allowing students to gain educational resources and videos online, so they’re able to learn when ever they wish to, begin to compete for students in Maryland as they are across the United States.
If a virtual academy is run by the school system, not by an outside provider, the student, and dollars, stay with the school system. It’s a win-win-win. But only if our schools get ahead of the trend.