Are online classes a viable option? – Post-Bulletin

Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 8:00 am

Are online classes a viable option?

Marge Eberts and Peggy Gisler

Post-Bulletin Company, LLC

In our state, we have virtual schools. Instead of going to school, the kids have the option of staying home. I am thinking that this type of education would be perfect for my daughter, a high-school sophomore, because she spends so much time acting in civic productions and finds it hard to get up so early for school. Will she be able to get a good education at a virtual school? — Interested

Online learning has really grown in the past few years. Most of the students enrolled in online courses are at the high-school level, like your daughter. Most, however, are just taking one or two courses not offered at their school.

Please generate and paste your ad code here. If left empty, the default referral ads will be shown on your blog.

The verdict is still out about how good an education students can get from cyber schools compared with brick and mortar ones. As far as AP (advanced placement) courses are concerned, the College Board hasn’t seen any significant score differences between those in traditional schools and those in online schools.

There are definitely advantages to online courses, such as opportunities to work at one’s own pace, to pursue serious outside interests and to be exposed to a greater variety of courses than those offered at a traditional school. At the same time, there are obvious disadvantages. Both full-time and part-time cyber students require strong motivation to avoid the distractions of Twitter, Facebook and other tantalizing websites. And they must have good time-management skills to handle these courses.

Most online students remain part of their own school district. This ensures they receive credit for the schooling. Otherwise, you must be sure that an online school is accredited. You also need to be aware that some state virtual schools do charge an enrollment fee.

My daughter’s second-grade teacher deducted points or threw homework away when the children forgot their names or handed it in late. I feel that these methods were inappropriate and discouraged young children from doing their homework. I think it would have been wiser for her to support the students for the work that they did outside of the classroom. — Inappropriate

In the first place, there is considerable disagreement among educators about the value of children in the early grades having any homework at all, as it doesn’t seem to correlate very highly with how well they do in school. At this level, the main purpose of homework is to get students in the habit of doing homework. This obviously includes handing their work in on time. Plus, homework can serve as a reinforcement of what they are learning in school, especially in reading and math.

Don’t criticize this teacher for wanting to have children turn their work in on time, because the sooner they learn to do this, the better. Admittedly, we don’t like to see the teacher throw out late work or nameless papers, as it can certainly be discouraging to such young students. At the same time, you can obviously help your child avoid this discouragement in the future by helping her create a checklist of what she needs to do before handing in her homework.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013 8:00 am.