Thursday, March 26, 2009

Idea #2: Online Education

Here's another idea from Jeff Kropf's blog ( that I really like. This is a great example of using technology to provide a high-quality education at reduced cost:

First, create an online education program such as the one I am involved with, Oregon Connections Academy, which has 2600 students from all over Oregon receiving a quality public education. We educate children for about half of what a traditional bricks and mortar public school does. We have certified teachers who are paid local union scale, PERS and health insurance. Our students test higher in virtually every area of study compared to the statewide average, our parents satisfaction survey for the third year (we are only 4 years old) remains in the 90 percentile and most of all, the kids enrolled in our program love it. It also can help struggling districts retain students they might otherwise lose as they are meeting the education needs of the student.

Next time we need to increase capacity, why not create a local Connections Academy that any Hillsboro student would be eligible to attend instead of their local school? A Hillsboro-based online education program, focused on our district, would have some additional advantages. In addition to the proven benefits and lower costs of online education, the online students could still participate in extracurricular and social activities at their local school, gaining some of the socialization benefits that some worry about in online education.

Having taught in a college-level online program with the University of Phoenix, I can personally attest to the fact that such programs can be just as rigorous and teach just as well as a classroom environment. In fact, online communication may help some of the more shy students (or students with disabilities like autism-spectrum disorders) interact more with their teachers than they would in face-to-face classrooms.

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