Are Virtual Academies Better Than Traditional Public Schools?

Do you think virtual academies are superior to traditional public schools? Read Tara Dodrill's thoughts and share your thoughts on which educational structure can provide students with more opportunities.

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Personally, I think a student would miss out on too many social skills.  They would not learn how to make friends on the playground, work in groups, and how to sit still in a classroom during instruction.  I do think there is a place for virtual classrooms for some students.  I think in addition to be able to work at their own pace, they would not have to put up with classmates who can not behave and provide a distraction.

I agree. I think it is important for students to learn how to socialize and share at a young age. However, virtual classrooms can be beneficial to students with special needs or attention disorders. Although there are several advantages to this method, it is important the these virtual students gain social skills. They will need interact with children their age as well as adults in some way.

I agree Tom.  School life include many major social events of a person's life.  A student can't learn how to interact with others from a computer.  However I do think that there are many positives to a virtual classroom.  Can a student have the best of both worlds?  Maybe attend tradition school half day then enrichment courses on their own time.

Great points, Tom. I think virtual academies can be very powerful and effective if used appropriately. I dont think virtual school is for everyone, but truthfully I'm not sure the public school system is for everyone either. Both provide valuable opportunities to grow and learn, it just depends on the age, subject matter, student, teacher, etc.

I don't know how convinced I am that Virtual Academies are better for students then Traditional Public Schools.  I understand that it would allow students to work at their own pace, take more credits, and finish early.  Why put all of that pressure on a child?  What about social interaction with peers, and learning how to stand up for yourself and dealing with teachers and administration?  Those are things you can't learn from a computer.  Kids already are hiding behind technology and are lacking social skills.  I feel like Virtual Academies will only add to this problem.

I am really going to have to disagree with some of the responses to this question. How many students are checked out of their classes because they are required "to sit still in a classroom during instruction"? Many of the greatest minds of our times could not sit still in a classroom? As for socialization, there are plenty of other ways that children can learn socialization skills other than in school. Sports, community/church groups, etc. Where is the research that students taking online classes do not have socialization skills? NCLB has helped create an educational system that rewards mediocrity and only achieving "proficient" on various tasks. The data does show that the number of students scoring proficient has increased since NCLB was instituted, but at the same time the number of students scoring advanced has decreased. Online learning in a virtual classroom provides students means to extend their learning beyond the classroom in some cases, and access to courses that may not otherwise be offered in other cases. Taking online classes is definitely a very individual decision, but I feel that we should be working to remove some of the barriers that currently exist and provide this opportunity to more students.

I am currently developing a global HS program (online Model United Nations) and I have to say that students are more engaged online with their peers than many a student I teach during the day in a traditional classroom. The sense of engagement and connection is very real in vibrant online communities. I don't think that traditional school is all that it's cracked up to be, at least for many kids. In a one year stint teaching at an online school, I would also say that many of these students were SUPER busy with activities during regular school hours and after school. I think students and families tap into many things that happen in the world outside of traditional school, things that we are often unaware of.

Given all the comments on this, it appears that this will be a popular topic and the conference.

I love public schools better than virtual academies. There is something that is just so much better when you see your teacher.

I am a Kindergarten teacher and I believe that with all the media that most of my students are born into are already enough to have them want to stay in front of it for a very long time.  Many forms of technology have become babysitters already and this is when I have to say that these children need to socialize.  There are still so many things that interaction with other kids their age can teach them about.  Perhaps in the older grades, virtual classroom, distance education which many are already in existence is quite fine.

I agree Maria, for young learners for sure. I teach k as well.  Media/tech needs to be treated as a vehicle for social interaction, collaboration, and building community, not as a babysitter. 

I think that virtual school would be best because in this day in age technology would most likely interest a student than using a textbook every day. I also think virtual school is better because a student can work peacefully at home better than they can with 30 other students in the classroom distracting them while doing their assignments. Online school is great, but if other kids think that online schools are bad, how would they know? They have never tired it.

There are pro and cons to both. If students are to go the virtual school route I do believe parents need should have their child into sports, girl/boy scouts, clubs etc. in order for them to work on their social skills. 



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