Posted by: elightkeeper | March 29, 2010

Online students speak up

On an historical continuum of education, online learning occupies very little time.  The past fifteen years is a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the traditional classroom model of learning that has been in place for centuries.  It is no wonder that those of us in online education have found our reception into mainstream learning circles less than warm and welcoming.  We are the group that is disrupting education, messing up the status quo with our distributed approaches and our embrace of technological tools to engage and empower learners.

As online educators, we had to develop tough skin to get through the early years when online education became an option for students. We have been criticized and dismissed, largely by our peers, and frequently in absence of factual information.  Over time, many critics have changed their views as they have come to know and understand what we are doing.   Of great concern for us as online educators, however,  are the experiences of the early adopters of online learning – the students in online courses.

Many secondary school students have exercised their right to choose and have enrolled in online courses against the advice of many respected adults in their lives.  Many have also expressed to us their frustrations.  They have felt marginalized, unsupported and in some cases, openly discriminated against for choosing to take an online course when the same course has been available in their home school.  

Now that thousands of students have chosen online courses, they are becoming increasingly vocal about their experiences.  In a recent student forum held in Vancouver, students were asked to generate ideas for dealing with the tremendous budget pressures facing the school district.  Not surprisingly, online education surfaced in their comments.  Here is what a few of our students had to say, posted by the participating students on YouTube, an online resource that they were unable to access from Vancouver schools until just this past September:

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