I have a wonderful young neighbor that lives near me in Florida. She participates in a home-school virtual education program that is part of the local county public school system. She has completed all of MS and is currently in 9th grade in this program.
She takes all of the required state exams, and is enrolled to take AP and IB courses within the same program. The State of Florida, as well as other states have figured out how to do this without any problems. But, NYS is still investigating whether it's worthwhile.
I simply have to look at the model provided by educators in Florida and marvel at their forward thinking model.
Heather Wolpert-Gawron had an excellent blog today in Edutopia on the same idea. While her take was on the qualities of successful online learning students I would like to suggest that these points could also be as a result of a student participating in such programs. I've listed them for you to review.
"1)You have to have a sense of self. Successful learners online have an awareness of metacognition -- self-motivation, self-starting, and ownership of one’s actions. In other words, they reflect on how they learn as well as what they learn.
2)You need to be able to manage your time wisely. They must be able to lay out their tasks with a critical eye, plan them accordingly, and follow them through to fruition -- many times without someone looking over their shoulder.
3) You have GOT to know how to collaborate. This is a biggie. More than an understanding of technology, more than a perfection of writing skills, the ability to collaborate is one that must be used comfortably online.
4) You need to be able to set goals for yourself. Being able to see the target and backwards plan towards that target is vital.
5) You need to communicate well in writing. The entire online community is based on the language of words and how to communicate them effectively. One cannot use texting language and expect to be heard. A student needs to use their best level of writing.
6) You must follow the community norms. Just like a classroom has a set of rules, so does an online class. A student must function within the norms and rules of netiquette set up by the instructor (or, better yet, agreed upon by the class itself).
7) You must be your own advocate. As slam poet Taylor Mali once wrote when asked if they would be tested on the material, “If not you, then who?” So does it go with being one’s own advocate. If you won’t ask the questions, take control, and make sure your voice is heard in a positive way…then who will?"
I think there is a place for every student in 21st Century learning. Everyone can find their niche and succeed.