Idaho recently became the fourth state to add an online learning requirement for students to graduate from high school. As is typical with these types of bureaucratic decisions, this initiative makes for great headlines but its impact on student learning remains questionable.
There’s a big rush to add online learning opportunities for students without really defining what quality online learning looks like. This really comes as no big surprise when our country struggles so mightily with what quality learning looks like. In addition, we are continuing with our premise that if it is good for one student then we must ensure that all students partake. We are so fortunate to be living in a day and age where we have different options for different learners. Why do we keep harping on the one-size-fits-all approach?
Instead of online learning, we should be focusing on connected learning and showing our students how to building a learning network that connects them with people who are passionate about things that they want to learn more about. Our students need to know how to connect and build networks within our communities and globally, depending on their needs.
Personally, I love the potential of on-line learning. But if that means having one teacher meeting with a group of kids in an online space to disseminate information, we are wasting our time and energy.
Why don’t we just mandate learning? Embrace the many pathways available and let the students choose their route.