BTW – this piece has nothing to do with the remote teaching movement happening as a result of the spreading coronavirus – KW
The Internet age has influenced almost every facet of our daily lives, including education. Over the past decade, online learning has gained significant momentum. As a growing trend, many school districts have begun to offer online school programs as an alternative to the brick-and-mortar classroom. The following reasons are why more and more students are enrolling in online school or participating in virtual learning.
1. Offers Freedom and Flexibility
Online school bodes numerous benefits, and among these are freedom and flexibility. Students who attend online schools are not confined to traditional classroom schedules and school hours. This is beneficial for several reasons. First, parents can choose a daily school routine for their student. Since they would not have to commute to school, students have more time to spend studying, resting, or completing other daily activities.
Many online programs offer student-paced courses. The flexibility of schedules and routines can free up time for students to chase other passions or interests, such as sports, music, and traveling. Aspiring athletes or performers can spend time practicing or auditioning and attend class when their schedule allows.
Students can also work when they feel most productive. If you are not a morning person, you can wait to do schoolwork until you feel like your most productive self. On the other hand, if you are a morning person, you can start the day early, finish class, and move on to other activities in the afternoon. Although this flexible schedule is great for some students, other students still need the structured routine provided by a traditional classroom setting.
2. Fosters Unique Lifelong Skills
Although students acquire valuable skills through all methods of learning, online school can help students develop unique skills that they otherwise wouldn’t until they were older. Many young children are well-versed with computers; however, online school allows students to gain early experience with computer learning and online courses.
The earlier in their schooling that students get familiar with online courses, the more comfortable they will feel with virtual learning throughout their education. Online students often take more responsibility around their education at a younger age than traditionally taught students. This independence improves a student’s ability to meet deadlines and remember important assignments.
Online classes offer students the unique ability to access lessons and learn concepts that they may not otherwise be exposed to until high school or college. For example, many teachers, especially elementary teachers, do not receive thorough training in technology and STEM fields. Various online programs offer courses in these fields that help students begin learning important concepts at a young age. More and more public schools are implementing blended learning structures to help bring this curriculum into the traditional classroom.
3. Presents a Wider Variety of Curriculum Options
Students can avoid one-size-fits-all learning with access to specialized programs and online courses that otherwise would be unavailable without the Internet. It is understandably difficult for teachers to provide every student with a personalized, unique learning experience. Online schools offer more students personalized instruction with the plethora of courses and resources available on the web.
Since many online schools are student-paced, those who struggle with certain concepts can spend more time working through them. Meanwhile, students who excel in a certain subject can progress as they master concepts. With this structure, every student can move at the pace best suited to their individual learning style.
Even in traditional classrooms, virtual courses offer more diverse curriculum options through blended learning. Some public school systems do not have access to the necessary funds or training resources needed to implement diverse curriculum options. However, blended learning is an easy, affordable way to bring these curriculum programs into the classroom.
4. Provides Opportunities for Gifted Students to Excel
A growing number of gifted students are being enrolled in online school to increase the rigor of the students’ coursework. Many online programs are student-paced, allowing gift students to progress through lessons at their own pace. In traditional classroom settings, these students may get easily bored in class when they understand the material and have completed problems or assignments before most of their peers. Student-paced online courses let these students move on when they are ready without losing interest.
Gifted students are often drawn to online schools that offer courses that aren’t available at their current schools, such as Advanced Placement (AP) and STEM courses. Online schools provide appropriately challenging courses to gifted students who otherwise may not have access to these types of curricula.
5. Empowers a Wide Variety of Students to be Successful
In some cases, students who struggle in the traditional classroom may find that online school can meet their unique needs. For example, children who are chronically ill can study when and where they feel their best. These students can focus on getting better without feeling as though they are falling behind in school. Likewise, students who have been bullied can learn in environments where they feel safe, helping them regain self-confidence. Military families can avoid uprooting their education due to relocation. Kids with learning and cognitive disabilities who suffer from classroom anxiety may find it easier to focus on their education when learning from home.
Credit recovery is another reason the number of students enrolled in online school continues to rise. Portions of the United States continue to struggle year after year with low graduation rates. Online school provides an alternate path for students in these communities to finish their coursework and receive a diploma. In addition to recovering high school credits, students can get ahead instead of falling behind.
With personalized instruction and additional resources, students who otherwise struggle with academics are empowered to truly master each subject, helping them prepare for rewarding careers and bright futures.