EDUCATION | TECHNOLOGY
From Issue #1
Death of the Classroom
The New Wave of Online Education
By Scott Reekie
a society where learning can happen at any time, in any
place and can be completed without ever going to class.
This could be the new wave of education and the Internet
technology now exists to support such a system.
the way, if the words "web, cyberspace, net or wired", mean
nothing to you, then you better get yourself one of those
books entitled, "The Idiot's Guide to Computers." The virtual
classroom is here. Worldwide, more than 17,000 courses are
now online, 2,700 courses from Canadian schools.
to International Data Corp., about 2.2 million people will
be enrolled in online courses by 2002 in the United States
alone. The Canadian education system will be very similiar.
If you are interested in English, Civil Engineering, Dental
Hygiene or Forestry, then head west to the University of
British Columbia (UBC) and click yourself a degree. Well
maybe it's not that easy, but you would be on the right
track. UBC offers these courses over the Web. They are second,
third and fourth year courses, which mean you would still
have to attend at least one year of traditional classes.
flexibility of studying at your own pace, and the money
you save with online courses are two of the main attractions.
An executive MBA degree from Queen's University in Kingston,
Ontario costs $40,000. In Alberta, Athabasca University's
online MBA program is more reasonable at $25,000.
Web is full of sites for you to visit. metalab.unc.edu/cisco/schoolhouse
takes you to The Virtual Schoolhouse where you can visit
a classroom, the principal's office, the library, teacher's
lounge, art room or you can even choose to take a field
trip. Or, if you want to get a little more specific, you
can visit www.virclass.com
and take an online course in Introductory Physics.
Web is a powerful educational tool. Scattered throughout
cyberspace, you can now find examples of governments, educators,
students and researchers experimenting with, and using the
Web as a way to teach and to empower students with newfound
creative ability. Every public library and school in Canada,
a total of 18,263, is now wired into the net. The federal
government in Ottawa, the provinces, school boards and corporations
fund the SchoolNet program where the plan is to connect
each of the country's 250,000 elementary and secondary classrooms
to the Internet by 2001.
some areas, online courses are being used to relieve overcrowding.
Is the Web simply being used to reduce overcrowding or is
it creating a generation of loners and social misfits as
feared by some parents? Some feel that virtual classrooms
will isolate students from each other, which will result
in problems developing interpersonal relationships and that
these skills are much more important than computer skills.
Should teachers teach kids how to behave in society, how
to respect others and how to co-operate or should kids have
already learned this from their parents? No one is saying
that social skills aren't important, however, virtual classrooms
are far more than just computer skills. Some strongly believe
that education can be taught via the Web and social skills
can be gained from joining sports teams, summer camps, or
just hanging out! After all, if you're on a hockey or baseball
team you're sure to pick up some lessons on respect and
argue that this virtual classroom may place pressure on
students: to become computer literate or be left behind
in life. Is this undue pressure or reality? Maybe being
left behind in life is a little dramatic, but the reality
is that the computer age is here. Whether you want to pay
for your new jeans with your debit card, or check to see
if the library has the book you want, you're going to need
some computer skills.
development of flexible, inquiring minds has rarely been
the main concern in the design of educational systems. After
all, if you have over thirty inquiring minds and only one
teacher, flexibility could be a problem. It seems that developing
students' proper social behaviour has always exceeded the
concern to develop students' creativity. Computer technology
can make individualized attention a real possibility. At
the Institute for the Learning Sciences, systems are being
developed to allow people to try out things in simulated
worlds, fly their own ship to the moon, or direct their
own newscast. This technology will allow for the individual
creative growth in students.
Uh, computers talking? or fighting
over a necklace?
all of the efforts to improve schools, some parents believe
that our schools are not fit for educating their children.
This frustration has led to a surge in the movement known
as homeschooling. Homeschooled families educate their children
as they see fit, either basing their education on curriculum
available for purchase or developing their own curriculum.
Ed Web is a website that explores technology and school
reform and has a lot to say about homeschooling. The author
Andy Carvin says that, "With the recent growth of the Internet,
even more families have become attracted to homeschooling."
Research suggests that home schooled students outperform
their public school friends. According to a survey of test
scores by the National Center for Home Education in the
U.S., homeschooled students outperformed public school students
by an average of 30 to 37 percentile points in math and
reading. The survey also noted that the income and education
level of their parents did not effect the success of their
Web will provide amazing opportunities for the education
of our society. Anyone with a phone line and a computer
has access to unlimited amounts of knowledge and programs
designed to help them learn and understand. The teachers
and parents involved with these programs will be given the
job of making sure that students lead well-balanced lives
that combine Web based education and positive social interaction
with their friends and neighbours. Imagine your recreation
room has now become your classroom, and your parents seem
to be doing as much homework as you are! So, be prepared
as the virtual classroom may find its way to a computer
screen near you!
A Trip to