[nfbmi-talk] online education in mi and why it is important

Terry D. Eagle terrydeagle at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 27 17:23:07 UTC 2014


I find this article and the concept of massive onlinwe learning, or virtual
learning very interesting from a public policy in education front.

What is the real intended goal of having and expansion of online learning?
That is the real question that must be answered.

While the percentage of students completing and passing any given subject is
an indicator of something; I am not sure what, the proof of the quality and
effectiveness will, I believe, be measured in the scores students show on
the MEAP, or whatever the measurement test the state requires of students in
any given year.  As admitted in the article, the percentages reported say
virtually nothing, no pun intended, about the quality and effective outcomes
of virtual learning education, from a public policy perspective.  Again,
what are the percentages trying to prove or impress?

The article raises a primary concern I have about virtual learning,
especially in the early years of education.  Before asking the question, can
virtual learning effectively assist students who are already behind in
academic levels for their grade or age, it seems to me the first question
that needs to be answered is, why is the student lagging behind in academic
level at his/her grade or age level?

I have completed numerous classes online, and it certainly is not the
environment in which to get the necessary support to address individual
concerns of not understanding the material, which is not conducsive to
subjects that require knowledge and understanding as a foundation for future
course learning.

We already observe, as a result of virtual technology, a generation that has
difficulty putting together a verbal or written sentence, carrying on an
intelligent conversation, and exhibiting acceptable social skills in public
and relationships of all types.  These things, I believe, cannot and will
not be effectively learned sitting in front of a monitor or smart phone,
while munching on Cheetos and washing it down with soda pop.  Which raises a
whole different set of issues for society and education in particular.

As for students with disabilities, as if the issue of resources to
accommodate the special needs of students doesn't already exist, does anyone
really believe such issues will be on the table of policy-makers,
legislators, and educators, as virtual learning is expanded?

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbmi-talk [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of joe
harcz Comcast
Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2014 7:20 AM
To: nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nfbmi-talk] online education in mi and why it is important

Fellow Federationists:

 

The article after my signature line might not seem germane at first blush to
this list. But, it is. Regardless as to the merits of online education what
we need to be concerned with is the accessibility, or rather, full and
complete accessibility of these programs to blind students, educators and
even blind parents.

 

This is precisely why the TEACH Act is so important and why the recent OCR
ruling under the ADA and 504 is so important.

 

I urge all to work to ensure that these systems in Michigan are fully
accessible and NFB of Michigan should, in my opinion create a task force on
this critical issue.

 

Joe Harcz

 

 

 

Online classes surge in popularity among Michigan K-12 students By Lori
Higgins Detroit Free Press Education Writer The number of K-12 students
taking online

courses in Michigan surged 52% in the last three years, according to a
report released this week that provides a first-of-its-kind - but limited -
look

at the effectiveness of online learning in the state. During the 2012-13
school year, 55,271 students took at least one online course, up from 36,348
during

the 2010-11 school year. The overall number of courses taken surged from
89,921 to 185,053 during the same time period. The effectiveness data was
mixed.

Of the students taking a blend of online and traditional classes, the
completion/passed rate for the online classes was just 60%, compared to a
completion/passed

rate of 72% for non-online classes. But the researchers caution that
limitations in the data could affect those completion rates. For instance,
completion

rates for summer school classes were not available when the data was
analyzed, said Joseph Freidhoff, executive director of the Michigan Virtual
Learning

Research Institute, which conducted the research at the request of the
Michigan Legislature. The students who took the summer classes in 2013 are
listed

as incomplete, but many of them may have passed those classes, Freidhoff
said. "We know this data isn't perfect," said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president
and

CEO of the Michigan Virtual University, the state-created nonprofit that
includes the research institute. "This is a giant first step in trying to
wrap

our arms around what we know is a growing trend. State Superintendent Mike
Flanagan said in a news release that the information in the report will help

impact instruction and policy in Michigan. "The findings ... provide an
important baseline to evaluate online growth and effectiveness over time,"
Flanagan

said. Fitzpatrick said the report puts Michigan years ahead of other states
in evaluating the effectiveness of virtual learning. More work will be
needed

to ensure that there is uniformity in the way schools are submitting data to
the state. The researchers analyzed data from several sources: Students
enrolled

in courses through Michigan Virtual School , which is part of Michigan
Virtual University; students who take all of their coursework online through
a cyber

school; and students who take online courses via other means, such as
courses provided by their districts or another entity. While there's been a
growing

push for students to take advantage of online learning, the data suggests
students perform better when they only take one or two classes online. Of
the

students who take a mixture of online and non-online courses, the
completion/passed rate was higher - 68% - for those taking one or two online
classes

than for those taking three or four (59%) and those taking five or more
(55%) online courses. Some additional findings: |Completion/pass rates for
students

in grades K-5 ranged between 87% and 94%, while the rates for older students
in grades 6-12 ranged from 47% to 77%. |The overall percentage of students

taking online courses still remains relatively small, particularly at the
elementary grades. In grades K-7, fewer than 1% of students have taken an
online

course. The highest percentage was in 12th grade, where 15% of seniors have
taken an online course. Fitzpatrick says he's concerned that the data
suggests

that a large number of the students taking virtual courses are students who
are behind academically and need to catch up on credits. He said there needs

to be more discussion at the local level on how to ensure online courses are
an option for all students. "We have to ask ourselves from a policy
perspective

- if a student is struggling and they need more help and assistance, is
loading them up with five or six online classes going to increase their
chances

of success? The data suggests no. 

 
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