In an article recently released by DistanceEducation.org, columnist Jennifer Williamson writes, “Today’s online education programs look nothing like they did decades ago—and some studies suggest they surpass traditional education.” The article titled, ‘Online Education: Better Than Traditional School?’ suggests that cyber schools afford students the opportunities for more individualized instruction, pacing, modified learning times, collaboration, and reflection. What’s more, recent reporting provided by the U.S. Department of Education, suggests that hybrid learning model (those which offer a mix of online education and on-ground instruction) provide the best all around experience for students.
While 21CCCS does not provide a hybrid education model, we do feel it is critical to invite distinctly personal elements of learning into our teaching model. This is, in part, what 21CCCS provides through our Learning Coach Model and our commitment to hosting monthly Community Outreach Events.
The role of the Plan for Student Learning Coach acts to bridge the gap between a fully online asynchronous learning experience and a synchronous one. Our Learning Coaches communicate with different students each day, answering questions, helping with assignments, and getting to know our students as individuals. They are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays. The learning coaches monitor student progress and engage students to work to their full potential.
In the way of outreach events, we believe that our school thrives because we combine individual instruction with many opportunities for students to socialize and interact in person. While students are not required to participate in synchronous lessons or our events, we recognize their positive effects and recommend them to all students. We find as a result, many students do participate in our events, and reap the benefits. They get to know their peers, interact with their teachers, and learn to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses as learners.
Williamson’s article really hit home the message that cyber education is nothing like it used to be. Today, we are not simply extrapolating on-ground instruction and shifting it into comprehensive text for a computer. Instruction is dynamic, mulch-faceted, and rigorous. It is interactive, adaptive, and constantly growing to meet the needs of students. 21CCCS is helping to show schools that, in the long run, online education can take students far beyond their computers and far beyond their own expectations.
Here is a full copy of the report released by the U.S. Department of Education, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning.