Over the last decade, K-12 online learning has surged. The same technologies that let us interact face to face at the press of a button, and enable companies to do business anytime from anywhere, are being leveraged to connect students to a high-quality education outside of the traditional classroom.
However, the increased adoption of online learning has also created something of a paradox. While virtual learning and the use of technology represents a step forward for education, it’s often used in ways that can be seen as a step backward.
For decades, educators have strived to move away from instruction
that equates learning with grades and views education only through an academic lens. We’ve finally come around to the idea that to truly prepare students for life means more than just giving passing grades. It requires educating the whole student, and providing them with the intellectual, emotional, and social tools to be successful in school and beyond.
And yet too often, online learning is being offered as ad hoc courses with little instruction, guidance, or support, with the hope that technology
will pave the way to a passing grade. That approach is not only counterproductive to student success, it undercuts the benefits that online learning can offer.
Virtual learning can be leveraged to create a whole-school learning experience that solves many of the problems students, educators, and administrators face. But a comprehensive online learning experience should be more than teacherless courses. It should include:
- Rigorous teacher-led courses for a variety of students and student needs
- Social-emotional learning (SEL)
- Professional development
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