Last Friday, Mark Edmundson, an English professor at The University of Virginia, wrote a scathing critique of online learning in The New York Times. Mr. Edmundson’s understanding of his subject lacked an in-depth intellectual or practical study of the myriad diverse programs available to students from grade school to graduate school. Unfortunately for his readers, and dangerous for those new to the concept, the basis of Mr. Edmunson’s argument against innovative teaching and learning practices seems to be rooted in a casual observation of a videotaped lesson; a form of distance learning, certainly, but one that is perhaps the most basic and dated of examples. His singular interaction with online learning does not constitute a fair judgment of today’s teachers using online curriculum and web-based learning environments to increase access and move millions of students forward in preparation for college and careers.
More than half of high schools in the United States report they need online learning to provide excellent teachers to students without localized access – leveling the playing field and personalizing instruction for students through online courses otherwise unavailable and allowing them to earn credits needed for graduation. (more…)