“Budget cuts have eliminated about 95 full-time teachers from the school district here over the past year, swelling class sizes and prompting parents to cry foul.” Based on the lack of teacher availability districts now want to give students the option to take courses online (while in school) without having a teacher present. This is raising many issues because parents doubt the efficiency of the online course. Last month Superintendent Thomas J. Brennan Jr. introduced to the district’s school board’s new plan. It included that it would “expand the district’s current use of New Hampshire’s online charter school, the Virtual Learning Academy, by putting a virtual learning lab in each of the district’s three high schools, allowing students to take courses there during the school day under the supervision of a “facilitator” who would be present in the lab. It would also add a remote classroom to each high school, where students in unsubscribed courses could participate in classes taught at one of the other schools via an interactive monitor, and expand the school’s collaboration with the University of New Hampshire at Manchester”. According to Dr. Brennan “class-size issues were not the main motivation for the project, which he hopes will expand student opportunity and increase technology literacy among pupils and staff alike. But it could, he said, provide a new alternative for students in oversubscribed classes without the schools’ having to hire part-time teachers to pick up extra course sections”. In other words Dr. Brennan would like to eventually aid students to a better education with the means of technology. As parents of these students they feel like allowing students to partake in online classes would close the gap that they see in schools. In a 2008 done by Sloan Consortium (which is an organization that advocates for online learning) it has been stated that estimated that 1.3 million high school students took an online course during that academic year, and the number is likely to have grown since. Most schools would use this opportunity to ease overcrowding but other schools used the program for accelerated or remedial courses or increased flexibility. Two major factors that Dr. Brennan mentioned with in this article were, that they were not trying to divert resources and replace the teachers in the classroom but to maximize the learning and minimize the financial burden.
Although this sounds like a very interesting new way of learning, we must think to ourselves – are we truly benefiting from an online course rather than having a teacher in the classroom teaching, giving you real feedback and live help. This is going to affect many teacher worldwide.