the VOA Special English Education Report.
of the fifty American states offered some kind of public online learning this
past school year. One state, Michigan, now requires all students to have an
online learning experience before they finish high school.
idea of a school has changed since the rise of the Internet in the nineteen
A new report from the Center for
Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University says eighteen states have
full-time virtual schools. There are no buildings. All classes are online.
learners might work at different times. But there might be set times for class
discussions -- by text, voice or video -- and virtual office hours for
started the first statewide public virtual school in the United States in
Today, the Florida Virtual School offers
more than ninety courses. Fifty-six thousand students were enrolled as of December.
Almost sixty percent were female. The school’s Web site says each student was
enrolled in an average of two classes.
Two-thirds were also enrolled in public
or charter schools. Charter schools are privately operated with public money.
Other students are home-schooled or in private school.
Virtual School has now opened the Florida Virtual Global School. Students in
other countries pay for classes. Janet Heiking teaches an English class. She
lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her students live as far away as Africa and
says they are taking her Advanced Placement class to prepare for attending an
American college. They can earn college credits by passing the A.P. test.
So how good are virtual schools? Studies
have shown mixed results, as that new report from Indiana University notes.
For example, students at Florida Virtual
School earned higher grades than those taking the same courses the traditional
way. And they scored higher on a statewide test.
virtual school students in Kansas and Colorado had lower test scores or
performed at a lower level than traditional learners.
Studies also find that virtual schools
may not save much in operating costs.
experts say the mixed results suggest the need for more research to find the
best ways to teach in virtual schools. Also, they say schools of education need
to train more teachers to work in both physical and virtual classrooms.
that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. To
learn more about computer-based learning, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Bob Doughty.