Pros and Cons of Online School

The idea of distance learning began as a provision for those who wanted an education but could not get one due to social and physical barriers. People, especially children, who had to work to earn their livelihood from a young age also opted for the distance mode of education. Slowly, this concept of distance learning became a part of home-schooling as well. Understanding the pros and cons of online school will help us in deciphering whether it’s beneficial for us or no.

Homeschooling of children was started when certain sections of the society, felt cheated by the social norms taught to their children in school. Specifically, and traditionally done by the orthodox Christian family, who refused to accept the change in the society and wanted to govern the education of their child. The purpose was to separate the child from the liberals and socials and follow the traditions of the church.

In the meantime, school education was evolving to benefit the ever-changing society. As a result, the classroom became more advanced as the learning became more practical to the children.

In effect of this change and a tremendous increase in informational and communicational technology in the past few decades, the mode of distance learning and homeschooling also updated to an online medium.

Online learning attracted a more curious younger generation. With the dissatisfaction among the learners and their parents from traditional schooling, online schooling emerged as an alternative and more convenient means of education.

Online schools are a relatively new phenomenon and are constantly evolving. Teachers and students alike are becoming more familiar with how to navigate online courses, and programs continue to improve.

Online schools, as with anything, have their advantages and disadvantages. Although students receive just as valuable of education in an online school as in a campus-based school, whether or not their particular learning style is compatible with the structure of online courses determines if the pros outweigh the cons.

Here is a list of a few general pros and cons of online school:

Benefits of Online School

  • Time Flexibility

Online courses are believed to be a convenient means of education for the student. It is so because it gives the students the liberty to log into the course material whenever it suits their schedule.

Despite the general belief, there are deadlines regarding homework assignments and discussions, which have to be achieved by the students. They can read and review course material at their chosen time. Due to this flexibility, those who are juggling a career, family, and education, opt for online schooling.

  • Availability

A growing number of online schools are being established each year all around the world. This means that people who wish to pursue an online degree or diploma can easily find the best suits, which suits their educational needs and desires.

  • 24/7 Access to Course Material

In a traditional school setting, students rely on their notes to remember class lectures. This is not the same in online schooling. Learning with an online school provides you with an added advantage as you get access to the written lectures which are available throughout the semester. It thus makes going back to review course material easier.

  • Location Flexibility

Internet got its name because it interconnects the world with the same net. In an online school, students can take classes from a state or country at the opposite end of the world without leaving the comfort of their home. This makes the teaching-learning process more diversified.

  • Zero Commute

The most appealing advantages to online schools are that it avoids the extra time it takes to commute to classes and between the classes. The student may use this time for completing homework, studying, working, earning, or following their dreams.

  • Self-Direction and Personalized Learning

The learning in an online school is self-paced, self-designed, and self-centered. Therefore, making education self-centered.

  • Multi-Media Presentations

Many online schools use a variety of media, such as CD/DVD’s and a WebCam, to teach lessons and to aid students in completing their homework.

Online schools such as International Schooling use software like Learning Management System and School Management System to serve their students.

  • Variety of Course Options

There is no virtual limit to the variety of courses offered through online schools. Students can take courses ranging from Language arts to Music Appreciation, from Earth Sciences to Personal Finance Literacy.

  • Online School Fees

Unlike general belief, online school fees have more validation than traditional brick-and-mortar schools. There is no extra expense like that of convenience, uniform, notebooks, lab fees, lunch, etc, thus, reducing the cost of education.

Let’s now discuss some general challenges of Online Schooling:

Limitations of Online School

  • Role of the Teacher

Unlike the traditional school teacher, the role of a teacher in an online school seems to be limited to an instructor. Most of the time, teachers guide students through the pre-written or pre-recorded course material, rather  the majority of the interaction with the teacher comes from class discussions and feedback on assignments. Some students who need the teacher to be a philosopher, facilitator, and counselor may have trouble with this format of schooling.

  • Technology Requirements

Many countries do aim to provide the access to technology to the lower strata of their society. But still, the lower spectrum of most of society does not have computers at their home, or their computer might not be equipped with the latest technologies, which inhibiting their online learning experience.

Many online schools are working to build and update their technical support, so students can attempt to troubleshoot their problems.

  • Social Interaction

Developing social skills and emotional skills are essential components of the holistic development of the child. Peer to peer relation is constricted in this environment because of most of the school work by student’s individualized learning.

A child must know the tricks and tips to survive in the real world, which cannot be taught in virtual reality.

  • Campus Environment: Extra and Co-curricular Activities

Online schools lack in providing valuable campus resources such as extracurricular and co-curricular clubs and activities that can be both enriching and educational. Most of the students identify their interests while participating in such activities and in such an environment.

  • Stigma

Although online schools have managed to gain more credibility over the past few years. There are common misconceptions among the members of society that online school is easier, and employers might not take your degree seriously. However, unlike the general belief, 60% of employers report that they do value an online degree the same as any other traditional degree.

After analyzing all these pros and cons, it can be stated that with effective changes within the regular schooling system, the online school can be just like no education system in the world is perfect, the medium of education is also not perfect. The spectrum of online education is still vague and aims to shine defeating all clouds and conquering all challenges present in its way.

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Top 10 Best Online High Schools

The world is developing and with it, all its dimensions. What was impossible years ago is a part of our daily routine. With the internet becoming the real wife of life, it has incorporated new boons into our patter. Today, we live in a digital world where things are getting done at our fingertips, or even just by voice command. Digitalization is making its way in every field and industry. According to two professors of the North Carolina School of Media and Journalism, J. Scott Brennen and Daniel Kreiss, digitalization is referred to as the process in which multiple domains of social life are restructured around digital communication and media infrastructures. It is thus, indubitably true to say that digitalization has improved our lives and made our daily tasks easier. The best online high schools or digital schools come with flexibility and ease. One can learn at his/her own pace, time and convenience and thus, eliminating all the geographical barriers present in any conventional school. Along with all the resources always in our pockets, the virtual space of communication and networking in an online school is extremely useful and empowering since they not only remove certain barriers of location and time, they also help to manage our time wisely. Researchers have claimed that the most common digital learning materials used weekly in PreK-12 classrooms were educational apps, videos, tutorials and various research websites. As more students are moving towards an online mode of studying, there is a shift that can be seen from the conventional mode of learning to a new, advanced and digital form of learning. For the best online high schools, here is a list that entails top 10 online schools that are accredited by globally accepted and appreciated accrediting bodies which provide quality education and globally recognized high school qualifications to their students: flvs-logo

Florida Virtual School (FLVS)

Visit Site FLVS is an online school dedicated to personalized learning. Whether you live in Florida or beyond, you can access more than 180 courses from Algebra to AP Art History and everything in between. Public, private and home school students from kindergarten through 12th grade use these courses to succeed on their own time and schedules. It is accredited by Cognia (NCA CASI, SACS CASI & NWAC). Various programs offered by FLVS are as followed:
  • FLVS Flex – It offers freedom in the form of online kindergarten-12th grade subjects with courses tailored to the specific needs of the students. The child can study when and where he/she wants – at home or while travelling over the summer break.
  • FLVS Full time – This program allows the student to get enrolled in a full-time schooling option which includes the elementary, middle and high school grades.180 hours for each course in a school calendar year is required to earn the respective credits.
  • County Virtual Schools – Apart from being an online school enrolling the students directly, FLVS functions in a franchise model. It authorizes schools within the district of Florida to provide the FLVS driven programs and courses to all those students who are unable to get enrolled in the regular schools due to any reason.
Fees The fees for accessing the FLVS Global school is roughly $800 for a full credit course at an additional cost of $25 per course for the Advanced Placement program. Being a public school, the services are free within the state. is-logo

International Schooling

Visit Site It is the first online school outside the U.S territory, accredited by Cognia. It is headquartered in Singapore and emerged as a flexible learning and home-schooling option for students across the world. The following programs are running currently:
  • Elementary School Program – Students from grades PreK-5 get enrolled in this program. The minimum age required to enroll in the PreK year is 4 years. The instruction material is knowledge-rich to help in the development of gross motor skills, fine motor skills and cognitive skills in their formative years.
  • Middle School Program – Students from grades 6-8 get enrolled in this program. The minimum age required to enroll in this program is 11 years. This program emphasizes on learning the basics along with helping in enhancing the study skills.
  • High-School Program – Students from grades 9-12 are enrolled in this program. The minimum age requirement for this program is 13 years. International Schooling offers various college-level preparatory courses (Electives and Advanced Placement courses) helping students to solidify their foundation for learning to get into the best colleges and universities around the world giving a jump start to their career.
  • Education for slow learners – The digital content is enriched with high-quality audio-visual mediums which improve the quality of understanding. As a result, it supports learners who need time to understand and learn the topics.
Fees International Schooling facilitates a cost-effective way of completing one’s education which makes enrolling at International Schooling quite affordable. The fee for enrolling into a middle school program is approximately $250 for a full credit course and for the high school course is about $400. inaca-logo

International Connections Academy (iNaCA)

Visit Site It was founded in 2001 with its headquarters in Maryland. It serves students from k-12. Students can get enrolled for full-time schooling or individual courses from anywhere globally. iNaCA provides a learner-centric approach to guiding by involving parents as the learning coaches. iNaCA is accredited by Cognia. Following are the programs offered by International Connections academy:
  • Lower School – Students in grades K-5 can get enrolled in this program and are introduced to basic skills via a specialized curriculum.
  • Middle School – Students in the Middle school (grades 6-8) have a wide range of elective courses to choose from along with an option to get enrolled in virtual clubs and activities.
  • Upper School – For grades 9-12, this prepares them for college-level preparation through their effective curriculum.
  • College prep – It also supports students in preparing for SAT and ACT examinations to apply to universities for higher education.
  • Individual Courses – Students who are looking for advanced STEM or world language courses which are unavailable in their locality can get enrolled.
Fees The fee for enrolling a student in any of the grades ranges between $4500-$6500 for a full academic year.

Forest Trail Academy

Visit Site It is a registered private school under the Florida Department of Education and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). It provides different learning solutions to students to earn an accredited high school diploma. Programs offered are:
  • Elementary School – For grades K-5. The courses have been structured to develop social skills and the basis of primary education.
  • Middle School – For grades 6-8. Students are introduced to an entirely new way of learning for their cognitive growth and excellence.
  • High School – For grades 9-12. The program includes core curriculum, elective courses and advanced placement courses to make students college and career ready.
Fees The annual fees for each of the grade ranges from about $2000 -$3000.

North Star Academy

Visit Site It was founded in 1998 with its headquarters in Mississippi and got its accreditation from Cognia in 2005. It currently caters to grades 4-12 students. Its curriculum lays emphasis on spiritual learning. Following are the programs offered by the North Star Academy:
  • Elementary school – students in grades 4 to 6 get enrolled in this program. It aims at building the early skills required for young children.
  • Middle school – For grades 7-8. The courses of this program are built to expand their existing knowledge and enhance their learning skills.
  • High School and Electives – Students in grades 9-12 get enrolled in this program. It helps to boost their career with their specialized curriculum and electives essential for college preparation.
Fees The cost for enrolment into a full-year credit course is around $700. jmhs-logo

James Madison High School

Visit Site Ashworth College, the parent-school of James Madison, was founded in 1987. James Madison High School (JMHS) was established in 1996 to fulfill the need for a comprehensive, quality high school for distance learners. It is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), an accreditation division of Cognia. JMHS is also accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Students must be at least 14 years of age and have graduated from the 8th grade. To be eligible for the College Preparatory program track, a student’s incoming GPA must be a minimum of 2.00 on a 4.00 point scale or a Coverall grade. Fees The monthly fees are $49 per month. Full pay option is at a discounted price for $1299. logo-keystone

The Keystone School

Visit Site The school was founded in 1974. The programs offer quality learning in a conventional environment for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. It is accredited by Cognia and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools. The programs offered are as followed:
  • Elementary school – For students in grades K-5. The courses have been structured to develop basic social skills and intermediate knowledge for the children.
  • Middle School – This program is fabricated for grades 6-8. Students get their hands-on various aspects of higher education.
  • High School – This is the program for students in classes 9-12. It includes core subjects, electives and six world languages to prepare the students for a better tomorrow.
Fees The annual fees for the course is $155. laurel-springs-logo

Laurel Springs School

Visit Site It is an accredited private online school for K-12 students and offers academic programs that meet each child’s individual educational needs. The school is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Cognia. Programs offered are:
  • Lower School – The program is designed in such a way that it encourages exploration, emotional growth, physical development and fun.
  • Middle School – Designed in a way to nurture a natural love for learning, while laying the groundwork for Upper School success.
  • Upper School – Offers exceptional course and curriculum options designed to challenge students to discover, explore and grow.
Fees $1,540.00 is the annual tuition. whitmore-school_logo

Whitmore School

Visit Site Whitmore School is an accredited online high school powered by the educational company CompuHigh and is fully accredited by Cognia. It offers several full diploma programs for students all over the world who need an alternative to a traditional brick and mortar school along with individual courses for students who need to earn credits to transfer to their regular school. Programs offered are:
  • Diploma programs – It includes various diploma programs like Diploma PLUS, Diploma PLUS with Math Tutoring Program and Adult education diploma program.
  • Individual courses – Students wanting to accelerate their education and get extra credit to graduate opt for these courses. Individual PLUS courses provide additional weekly progress reports.
Fees $385 per course. $1,394 – 1,499 per 12 months. The annual tuition fees are $1316.00. With the online high schools setting their feet in our world and providing us a new alternative for educating our children, an evident shift can be witnessed from the traditional classroom setup of a student-teacher interaction surrounded with textbooks to a virtual world full of digital books and resources.

The Oaks Private School

Visit Site It is an accredited, 100% online education for students. This online high school aims to build a customized curriculum, working with each student individually to achieve their goals. The programs are as followed:
  • Elementary school – Lays down the building blocks of the early education of the child.
  • Middle school – Empowers student to pursue his/her personal interests with full potential.
  • High school – Prepares your child for the future. The diplomas are accepted by colleges and universities throughout the US and several countries.
Fees The annual tuition fees are $1316.00. With the online high schools setting their feet in our world and providing us a new alternative for educating our children, an evident shift can be witnessed from the traditional classroom setup of a student-teacher interaction surrounded with textbooks to a virtual world full of digital books and resources.

Hybrid Learning and it’s different types

Education in many parts of the world is still being neglected. Here, we take you through the methods of how to enhance the learning capacities within kids. Hybrid learning is one such technique which increases the learning span amongst students.

~260 million children around the world are not even enrolled in primary or secondary school (Source: UNESCO, 2016).

“The name of the dog is Puppy.”, Grade 3 students in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania could not even read this simple sentence (Source: World Development Report, 2018).

In rural India, approximately three-quarters of students in grade 3 could not solve a two-digit subtraction such as 46 – 17, and by grade 5 half could still not do so (Source: Annual Status of Education Report, 2017).

We are lagging behind, and we need to take an educational quantum leap. However, we cannot leapfrog our curricular goals.

Unburdening learners by simplifying the curriculum deteriorates the quality of education. Dropping certain subjects or reducing the intricacy of conceptual understanding of subjects will not solve the purpose. Flat learning profiles of young learners display time spent not skills gained.

The World Development Report 2018 urges prioritizing learning to address the learning crisis. The WDR recommends action by:

•             Assessing learning outcomes

•             Acting on the evidence to make schools suitable for all

•             Aligning all actors to make the whole system work for learning

Hybrid learning/ blended learning can be one of the potential solutions to address the learning crisis.

Blended learning is a flexible concept to empower teachers as well as students to improve learning outcomes. International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) defined blended learning as “learning that combines two modes of instruction, online and face-to-face, but at potentially different points in time.”

Types of Hybrid Learning Models which can be implemented by educators are as follows:

1.           The Flex Model – Flex model can be implemented by secondary schools. Online instruction delivery is a vital part of this model. Teachers deliver instructions online and students can access the online content in the sanctity of their home. This model appeals to out-of-school students who get involved in work-study programs, students who find it difficult to attend traditional schools and students who need a part-time schooling program.

2.            The Rotation Model – Students move from face-to-face instruction to online instruction following a schedule prepared by the teachers. Elementary schools benefit from the rotation model where learning is divided between literacy skills and mathematical skills.

3.            Self-Blend Model – This model allows autonomous learning as students can choose online courses in addition to the traditional courses they have enrolled for. Students can enhance their skill set by enrolling for the courses which prepare them for college.

4.            Face-to-Face Driver Model – Students can participate in online learning depending upon their levels of ability and mastery. Highly capable students may opt for multiple courses to proceed at a rapid pace. Average performing students may get remediation classes and more time to grasp concepts.

5.            The Online Driver Model – This is a full-fledged online instructional model for students who cannot attend a traditional school and are ready to learn from remote locations. Online learning can assist specially-abled students, students who want to take up additional courses and students who work while studying and need a flexible learning schedule.

6.            Online Lab School Model – Students are required to attend a traditional school where entire courses are delivered on online platforms. Trained paraprofessionals supervise the sessions. Schools with a stringent budget that are not able to accommodate students due to facility restraints or lack of availability of teachers can benefit from an Online Lab School Model.

Blended Learning is a dynamic concept. Thousands of Blended Learning models can be created and adopted using these basic models. Susceptibility to technology, lack of Government funding, lack of knowledge and lack of strong leadership are some of the challenges which hinder the implementation of Hybrid Learning models in education. Policymakers and regulators need to advocate online learning to make significant improvements in the current scenario. Collective efforts are a mandate to improve the quality of online educational content and change the status of online education from ‘casual’ to ‘formal’.

Application of blockchain technology in education

We are living in an era of unprecedented innovation. We are witnessing a convergence of digital, physical and biological realms as connectivity is increasing. Emerging technologies like Blockchain technology, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) are transforming every field. Application of blockchain technology is emerging in the field of education.

Introduction to Blockchain

Blockchain technology is maturing across sectors and it has enormous untapped potential to change the game in the field of education. As stated in a report from a market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), global spending on blockchain solutions reached ~$2.1 billion in 2018.

Blockchain creates a cryptographically secure and immutable decentralized ledger system to facilitate peer-to-peer systems, manage data in form of records, transfer value via digital contracts and track real-world objects. Blockchain enables the transfer of assets among parties securely-allowing every participant in the network to own a piece of the network by hosting a node. Democratic design is a defining feature of Blockchain technology. Digital currency is a significant and widespread application of Blockchain technology. As of early July 2018, the total crypto currency market cap (spanning 1,629 currencies) was valued ~$255 billion (Source: Blockchain Beyond the Hype, World Economic Forum).

Students of today travel and study abroad, they pursue a mobile learning style which has propagated a need to share data in a secure and seamless manner. Blockchain, an emerging technology, can reduce data management costs effectively by making needed changes in the operational and technical models of higher education.

Blockchain’s Applications in Education

Blockchain obviates the need for a central authority/system. This is how it creates a decentralized system:

  • Blockchain maintains a digital form which allows a user to store his/her information like credentials, certifications, transactions and other related information.
  • A new “Block” is created for every update and added to the “chain”. All the entries can be managed, validated and circulated.
  • Transaction histories are archived making the database or the ledger transparent and secure for every stakeholder involved.

Implementation of Blockchain technology in education revolves around peer-to-peer interactions which are used to:

  • Store learner’s credentials and qualifications permanently
  • Authenticate learner’s transcripts
  • Enable credit transfers
  • Provide a central platform to enable collaboration among educational institutions and organizations

Digital Identification

Blockchain ensures ‘Digital Identity’ by maintaining ‘Digital Certificates’ of learners which are stored cryptographically. It provides a digital process for validation of learners’ identities by storing the information about the document holding the learner’s details. Various stakeholders in the system can exchange and access digital records.

Credit Transfer

Blockchain can be used to transfer credits by storing ‘Digital Contracts’ which holds the conditions laid down by the institutions for credit transfer. Credits will be transferred automatically upon the fulfillment of the conditions mentioned in the Contract. Blockchain allows institutions to update the Digital/Smart Contracts as well.

Blockchain is a nascent technology. Adopting Blockchain technology requires active involvement as well as collaboration from all the stakeholders. Implementation of Blockchain technology in education requires change management. Every educational institution will have to adhere to common standards co-created by potential catalysts and policymakers.

Blockchain can reinvent education and such transformations cannot happen automatically. Institutions need to participate, understand and experiment with the implementation of Blockchain technology in education individually or as a part of a consortium.

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