Should Online Classes Be Required?

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Today the governor of Michigan signed a bill "establishing a rigorous high school curriculum" in the state.

Curiously enough, in the list of required courses for all students (typical stuff: four credits each of math and English, three credits of science, etc.) is "one online learning experience."

I'm sure this will spark a huge debate in the ensuing months: why exactly are they requiring every student to take a class online?



The Discussion

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    Dennis E. Hamilton

    " ... A school district or public school academy shall provide the basic level of technology and internet access required by the state board to complete the online course or learning experience. For a pupil to meet this requirement, the pupil shall meet either of the following, as determined by the school district or public school academy:

    "(i) Has successfully completed at least 1 course or learning experience that is presented online, as defined by the department.

    "(ii) The pupil's school district or public school academy has integrated an online experience throughout the high school curriculum by ensuring that each teacher of each course that provides the required credits of the Michigan merit curriculum has integrated an online experience into the course.

  • User profile image

    Online courses are a great way of killing two birds with one stone.  Obviously, the student learns the material the course presents (ie. history, political science, literature).  But in addition to that, the student will learn computer and internet basics by necessity.

    Some would argue that everyone already knows the basics required by an online course, but I've seen differently.  I've recently tutored students in CS 100 at my private, accredited university.  The sole purpose of the course is to learn computer basics, and some of these students donn't know the most basic of activities, like how to use e-mail.  If this is happening in good colleges, I'm sure that public high schools could benefit from requiring online courses.

  • User profile image
    Dennis E. Hamilton

    There were two bills that became the public acts signed today, one from the House, one from the Senate, and each reconciled.  The graduations requirements (with certain provisions for customization) include

    4 credits mathematics
    4 credits English
    3 credits science
    3 credits social science
    1 health and physical-education
    1 arts (visual, performing, or applied)
    2 non-English language (including ASL), in effect around 2015 (in 3rd grade this year)

  • User profile image
    Dennis E. Hamilton

    I was speaking to a Community College instructor who provides basic computing instruction.  She was telling me that computer proficiency is tacitly required in most courses, including such simple things as expecting papers to be computer printed.   One problem at that level is that there may be non-credit courses but students are reluctant to take them, and it may be difficult to have employers pay for them.

    On the brighter side, there are some computer driving license programs, inspired by a European initiative, although the US versions apparently require taught instruction.

    Finally, the University of Washington has made their NSF-sponsored Fluency in Information Technology (FIT100) program available as a free on-line course for noncredit.  It is equivalent to a 5-hour (quarter system) course, so maybe a little too strenuous.  (I obtained Lawrence Snyder's book by the same name, but have not seen the course.)

  • User profile image
    Dennis E. Hamilton

    On the easier side, the British Computer Society provides an eCitizen course which covers the basic of using the Internet, learning to be critical and safe, etc. 

    In the Michigan bills that were signed today, I notice that many of the required courses are specifically allowed to incorporate on-line components.   I also noticed that these amend a set of statewode curriculum requirements that have been in effect since 1976.

  • User profile image
    Dennis E. Hamilton

    I notice that it sometimes says "online course or learning experience."  My sense is this is going to be determined by the state board of education, probably by negotation with districts.

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