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Mandating Online Learning December 20, 2005

Posted by Michael McVey in Students.

adolescents.jpg   Last week a newspaper article was published stating that students in some Boston schools are clamoring for more metal detectors. The point of the piece was that students were beginning to report seeing more weapons in their school and that when the detectors were beeping students many times security simply passed them through without further searches.

So what is the point of implementing a new technology if you are not going to use it properly? I mention this improper use of technology apropos of an article that came out the next day in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Michigan is considering mandating that students take one online course as a graduation requirement. Kathleen Straus, president of the State Board of Education, said, “We want to foster lifelong learning . . . much learning is going to take place in the 21st century online.”

It makes sense for students to become prepared and competent in the environment of the online classroom. My concern is that not all online courses are alike. The best of them use electronic collaboration tools that encourage students to engage with one another online. The worst of them are simply static postings of articles for students to read.

I am not sure what such a requirement will look like when it finally reaches the school level but it is certainly worth watching. Perhaps this sort of legislation will be the engine that drives the development of better online courses.



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