images (6)Preconceived notions about virtual education annoy me. When it comes to preconceived ideas about a public virtual school, it truly runs the gamut. Comparing a virtual education to a traditional home school is relatively fair, but even then it is not the same concept. Looking at it from a brick and mortar school standpoint is closer, but still not the same. From no socialization to getting to work whenever you want,  I want to try to put some of those assumptions to rest.

For example, the idea that a virtual school is one where you can take your child and put them in front of a computer and expect them to learn without help is trouble waiting to happen. True, much of the learning is individualized and the student can complete it on their own. However, much like in a traditional school, the student will require assistance to master concepts. A parent cannot expect it all to happen by itself. Much like in a traditional home school setting, it is up to the parent to make certain that concepts are being understood and retained.

 

Parents must realize that it is completely up to them to make sure that their student learns what they need to learn. Unlike most traditional schools, they get help when they need it from various resources. Traditional home school parents make a point of networking with other parents or with different organizations for the assistance they may need to help them out. Virtual school parents do much the same, although many of those resources are automatically provided. It may be up to the parent,however, to utilize what is made available.

The advantage to a public virtual education compared to homeschooling,  is that there are certified teachers provided to the students. The teachers help create the curriculum and adjust it to a specific student’s needs. The teachers provide support directly to the student to aid them in learning the material. The school and teachers will also provide support to the parent where they can. Ultimately, though, the end balance lays on the shoulders of the parent. Teachers are not looking over shoulders, so the parent must monitor that the student completes work in a timely manner. The parent must also be prepared to be the first contact for problem resolution when the student has problems.

The disadvantage is that public virtual education follows the state standards set for education. Parents may feel this moves too fast or too slow, takes on too much material or not enough. Parents can always supplement if they feel the need for more (ie: religious) material, but they need to know what the state requirements are for the curriculum. The parent needs to be well informed as to what is going on with their school as well as with their state. That is much  more so than in your traditional brick and mortar school.

As to socialization, in a public brick and mortar school, most of the ‘social’ aspect of it happens during lunch (if then) or after school. Many schools don’t even allow it on campus except for special events. True, in a virtual school there are no peers to directly talk to majority of the time. However, there are school sponsored events and usually teacher or parent sponsored events happening on a regular basis. Thus, the student CAN get out and interact with their peers. This doesn’t even get into the other activities a student may be involved in, such as sports or scouts. It closely equates to what a traditional home school parent does in that it is up to the parent to make sure the socialization happens.

Thus, a public virtual education is neither your standard brick and mortar education, nor is it your traditional home school. It is somewhere between the two, with the parent being the bridge. Without the parent being active in the process, though, it doesn’t happen smoothly. The child will lose out on what can be a wonderful experience and the student will lose out on their education.

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