Virtual Learning in a Crisis

Disclosure: The following thoughts/reflections are not necessary the views of ISB or its community

It has been a few weeks since we were in a virtual school situation here in Bangkok. Although the flood water continues to slowly move South into Bangkok our school has reopened with no immediate threat to flooding in sight if at all.

floodingimage
SOME RIGHTS RESERVED BY MITH17

Some rights reserved by mith17The school was closed for a week, along with all schools in the Bangkok area, by the Ministry of Education. ISB is lucky in did not get hit by the floods. Not all International Schools were as lucky.I have done presentations throughout Asia on preparing for school closure as it seems they follow me where ever I am in the world. Saudi Arabia with terrorism, Shanghai with Typhoons, Bangkok with riots and flooding, and even Washington State with snow and earthquakes. Depending on the situation many times schools try to move into an virtual school situation. Here are some things that no matter why the school closes seem to be factors in having a successful virtual school experience.Blended Classrooms to Virtual Classroom is an easy Transition  Those teachers who use technology on a daily basis in a blended classroom environment have the best success when it comes time for virtual school. The technology is already in place and more importantly the students know where to go to find information and what the expectations are. The students and educators who struggle the most are those who have to try and set up the technology at the last minute….it just doesn’t work.

Virtual work isn’t Homework Virtual work is different than homework and both educators and students need to understand this. Many teachers not being trained as online educators have a hard time understanding what kind of work can be done other than just “busy work” or homework type of assignments. Creating lessons that are interactive, that are deeper in meaning then what educators are use to giving online is PD time worth spending.

Videos are Good Students like videos. They really like videos that their teachers have taken the time to make. Quick 3 to 5 minute videos (no longer then 10 minutes at the most) seem to always get high marks for students. A good YouTube video isn’t bad, but there’s something about a teachers touch that kids still enjoy.

Preparing Students for the Future

future of elearning  

Lastly I think every school should follow the lead of Idaho and require every high school student to take classes online as a graduation requirement. If for no other reason than to prepare them for the university that awaits them. The lastest research from universities shows that online classes in undergraduates is still on a very steep raise with over 500,000 more undergrads taking at least one online course last year than the year before.

According to the Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011 report, university presidents view online learning as a very significant part of their future school plans, which means more and more students will be taking classes online. The key finding in the report were:

  • Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year.
  • The 10% growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population.
  • Thirty-one percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
  • Reported year-to-year enrollment changes for fully online programs by discipline show most are growing.
  • Academic leaders believe that the level of student satisfaction is equivalent for online and face-to-face courses.
  • 65% of higher education institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long-term strategy.
  • There continues to be a consistent minority of academic leaders concerned that the quality of online instruction is not equal to courses delivered face-to-face.

With the economy where it’s at, online schooling also makes fiscal sense for many families. As a university student you can take your classes and still live at home saving anywhere from $10,000 on up in room and board cost.

 

If we believe that part of our job as educational institutions is to prepare students for their future then I believe we need to prepare them to learn online.

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