Writing on the OnlineUniversities.com website, online education proponent Dr. Justin Marquis had some words of caution for Idaho as it moves toward becoming the first state in the nation to require two online credits for high school graduation:
I am firmly in support of some mandatory online education for all students at all levels. Initiatives such as the one in Idaho have the potential to increase technological literacy and expand course offerings beyond what is possible in every school. The operative phrase here is “have the potential,” though. Online classes that stress creative thinking, innovative uses of technology to synthesize and share, involve social interactions in support of learning, and allow students to explore areas of inquiry not available in their home schools should be widely supported. But canned, self-paced, isolationist classes which stress basic skills development, while having some value in limited quantities, only serve to enhance student disinterest in education and should be shunned.
The state of Idaho (and the many other states across this country implementing similar changes) needs to consider the long-term effects of slashing their education budgets and looking for quick fix solutions. While online learning done well can provide a significant benefit for students, developing innovative classes that challenge and engage students is not a cheap fix for the budgetary woes of a state in crisis. Long range planning regarding how to create a well-educated and productive population that can create new jobs and even new industries to help boost the state’s economy is more challenging in the present, but provides hope for a much brighter future.
IEA President Penni Cyr cited Marquis when she testified today at the Idaho Legislature. Read his entire post here.