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TMCNet:  EDITORIAL: We're not following Dorn's school of thought

[February 15, 2013]

EDITORIAL: We're not following Dorn's school of thought

Feb 15, 2013 (Moscow-Pullman Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Some members of the Washington state Legislature are under the impression online courses don't have a place in the education of the state's younger students.


Under proposed legislation, which is supported by Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn and defines an online course as one where the content is delivered using the "Internet or other computer-based methods and more than half of the teaching is conducted from a remote location using an online learning management system," online courses would only be available to students in grades 6-12.

We're not really following that school of thought.

While the bill does provide some exceptions -- including those for students with health conditions, students temporarily absent from school and students removed from the classroom for conduct reasons -- it still takes away a valuable teaching tool for schools. While larger school districts have deeper teaching pools, rural areas are limited in their choices, meaning some courses just can't be offered due to lack of qualified instructors. Online courses make that a nonissue.

We'd be the first to say it's a horrible idea to plop young children down in front of a computer all day, as no monitor can adequately replace interactions with a real, live teacher, however, a mix will only serve to better prepare these students for the future.

Kimberly Coy, a former Washington teacher and a current doctoral candidate at Washington State University whose research is aimed at online education, has been a strong opponent of the bill. Coy worked on a study focusing on online learning for students with disabilities and, she says, the results clearly demonstrated the benefits of online courses.

"It's very individualized. They work with their parents every day, who are hearing the student explain how they think and how they learn," Coy said, adding other families may turn to online education as a temporary solution to catch-up before returning to a brick and mortar school.

Those same benefits could be applied to more traditional students -- if the bill fails to pass.

"I just don't understand (why Dorn is in favor of the bill)," she said. "Why can't we provide every student with some sort of access If this happens we'll be moving backwards." We'd have to agree.

___ (c)2013 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) Visit the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) at www.dnews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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