EDITORIAL: Online students need real-world peers

2013-11-04T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Online students need real-world peers nwitimes.com
November 04, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Online classes for K-12 students are becoming popular in Indiana. These courses are a good option for students who have physical limitations or other issues that make attending traditional schools a challenge.

Alice Anderson, dean of the College of Education at Purdue University Calumet, said online education serves students with individualized needs well.

"The thing to be concerned about is that the instruction must be engaging so students really learn and understand the information," Anderson said. "There are standards in place through which online education can be evaluated as to how engaging and strong it is. Online education is no longer a situation where a student reads a lot of material and answers questions."

Don Williams, CEO of Indiana Cyber Charter School, said his school's staff communicate with students by telephone, email, text and video chats.

"It seems to work terrifically and conveniently for families," Williams said. "They have a great deal of access to and attention from teachers and school administration."

Online education is also good as a supplement for other instruction at a brick-and-mortar school or for home-school situations.

A smaller school, whether taught by just one parent or by a small faculty, might not be equipped to offer classes to meet every student's needs. Supplemental online courses can work well in those circumstances.

Online education is even sensible for some children who are self-motivated.

But seriously, kids need to get out more often.

Michelle Prater, of Gary, said she takes her daughter on field trips and to social activities through their church. Prater's daughter still sees friends at high school football games as well.

That's an important aspect of education for children.

Don't discount the value of learning to work in groups with peers in the physical world, not just cyber land.

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