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Distance Learning in the K-12 Classroom
Last week, the results came in on a study that the Sloan Consortium conducted: the study found that 63% of k-12 schools have one or more students enrolled in either a fully online course...
In addition to announcing the increased percentage of distance learners, the Sloan Consortium also reported that, out of the districts surveyed, they expect that the K-12 enrollments in online schools will increase by approximately 23% over the next 2 years.
Although there are many different opinions regarding distance learning, the primary argument for distance learning is that it provides access to course content; by providing remote access to course content, distance learning classrooms enable individuals to enjoy learning opportunities that they may not have had otherwise.
The primary argument against distance learning is that the quality of the education is not as high. Some critics maintain that the lack of face-to-face interaction is a severe detriment to online learning; this argument is based on the idea that the physical interaction with classmates is an important part of learning. This argument is much more applicable to the k-12 environment because interacting with classmates and peers is much more important to the k-12 age students than college students.
The fact that rural school districts were the loudest advocates of online learning points to the fact that distance learning is a critical supplement to the traditional learning environment:
We have yet to see anyone claiming that distance education will replace some online k-12 classrooms completely as it has in higher education: for now, it seems that k-12 distance learning will remain a supplement, rather than a replacement.
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