Online instruction will be increasing in Sacramento since Governor Brown wants to invest nearly $37 million in online education. His proposed state budget includes $16.9 million for community colleges and $10 million apiece for the UC and CSU systems to expand online options for hundreds of high-demand, prerequisite courses that fill up quickly. At a UC regents meeting in January, system President Mark Yudof endorsed the effort, according to the Sacramento Bee article.
Brown's proposed $37 million investment in online instruction is not meant to create new partnerships between colleges and MOOC firms. Check out the San Jose State pilot program with Udacity. What you have there is the college controling course content, student testing, and awarding of transferable credits.
The business, Udacity provides computer expertise, coordination, and help in fine-tuning presentation. Another college is UC Irvine which works with MOOC firm, Cousera rather than with Udacity. At UC Irvine, six of the university's courses are offered free or at low cost online – two for college credit – to students worldwide.
You can learn more online than sitting in a classroom, reported a U.S. Department of Education analysis in 2009. The reason why is that if you have a recording of lectures and other course materials, you can view them repeatedly until you learn what you need to know for the course.
Will the idea of earning a college degree entirely online (or a free elementary school-middle school-and high-school diploma online) signal the end of bullying behavior and for college students -- fraternity house hazing, and cheerleaders taking courses online instead of socializing at party schools or binge drinking on campuses?
Will the choice of an online education help students intimidated by peers in public school because of their preferences or disabilities? Online courses for credit at the college level certainly will draw the attention of students looking for serious study, reflection, and getting the degree on time instead of waiting for seats to become available in the face of rising tuition.
For those who enjoy learning alone at home rather than in a group, and for those who enjoy thinking, reflecting, and going deeper into a subject, for those who didn't enjoy the bullying or attention, even humiliation paid to them by peers in various classes throughout life, you soon can learn online as long s the subject you're learning doesn't involve hands-on other people or animals as you'd find in classes teaching some of the medical and dental professions and their allied healthcare. Check out the sites, 2013 Online Colleges - educationconnection.com, Khan Academy (learn almost anything for free), and 650 Free Online Courses from Top Universities | Open Culture.
For example, if you are interested in multimedia and digital journalism, history, literature, mathematics, computer science, and enjoy dealing more with data than face-to-face people, here's your chance to study without distraction. And for those with disabilities or who lack public transportation to schools, here's your change to earn degrees, according to the February 10, 2013 article by Jim Sanders, Online instruction destined to increase in California colleges
Gov. Jerry Brown and California university officials are paving the way for more students to pass courses and obtain degrees without ever going to class by boosting online programs. It's cheaper for students to study courses online than it is by going to classrooms. Think of the expenses of preparing a classroom, keeping it cleaned and warmed, and providing services. Will campuses in the future be centered around labs and libraries with instruction being given online to homes, which may cut down on dormitory expenses?
In past decades, distance learning meant being sent books through the mail and mailing back the results of correspondence through the regular mail. Now it's email. You've had extension, extended studies, life-long learning classes, adult education, and enrichment courses, and even free public school online for kids.
Online classrooms in Sacramento
Check out the August 1, 2011 Sacramento Bee article from the San Luis Obispo Tribune by Diana Lambert, "Rescue district opens an online classroom." In the Sacramento area's suburbs of El Dorado, Placer, Amador, Alpine, and also Sacramento Counties, the Rescue Union School District now has an online school for your back-to-school students who range from the third to the eighth grade.
You can register now for your child to attend school online elementary school, grades 3 through 8. Looking for a back-to-school online opportunity for your child?
Also check out the tuition-free virtual school, the California Virtual Academies website. Because the Elk Grove Unified School District in 2010 opened enrollment, the school is free and open to any student in grades kindergarten through grade 12 of high school, living anywhere in Sacramento County. That means you don't have to live in Elk Grove. Also, the school is open to kids living not only in Sacramento County but in Amador, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Placer, San Joaquin, Solano, Sutter, and Yolo Counties. For further information, visit the site, Elk Grove.
The Elk Grove area school isn't the first virtual school in California, though, just in Sacramento County. Check out the California Virtual Academies website. According to its website, California Virtual Academies — the only K¹² Certified Schools in the state—combine visionary leadership and the highest-quality distance-learning curriculum available today to provide an innovative, highly effective education for California students.
The California Virtual Academies (CAVA) are WASC-accredited, state-approved public charter schools. The curriculum is provided by K¹², and is accessed via an Online School (OLS) as well as through more traditional methods, with materials—including books, CDs, and even bags of rocks and dirt—delivered right to your family's doorstep.
Parents and students are assigned their own California-credentialed teacher to help guide and track their progress through the curriculum. There are regular, face-to-face meetings as well. Student/student interaction is actively encouraged, so CAVA students are always well-educated and well-socialized.
Who is this intended for? California Virtual Academies serves students in grades K-12 across the state. What are the costs? Because they are part of the public school system, the California Virtual Academies are tuition free.
Also sites to check out include, Models for Collaborative Online Learning: Pedagogy, Design, Project-based learning (PBL): Online Collaborative Opportunities, and Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Setting. When it comes to back to school time, online learning doesn't have to mean a child alone in front of a computer at home. It's also about discussion and can be very social. Collaborative learning in an online classroom can take the form of discussion with many mentors and peers. And online courses offer the opportunity to create a highly social learning experience.
Collaborative Opportunities for Online Learning
Referring now to the Rescue District online classroom, according to the Sacramento Bee August 1, 2011 article, "Rescue district opens an online classroom," what this new 2011 online elementary school offering means is that Collaborative Opportunities for Online Learning now offers three programs with differing degrees of teacher and peer interaction. See the site for further information about tuition-free online learning for children at Online School | K12.com.
There also are students in the blended learning class where the elementary school students can complete most work at home and attend class at the Cool School Learning Center at Lake Forest Elementary School in El Dorado Hills twice a week. The online learning students finish their work at home and also online under the supervision of a credentialed teacher.
This not only gives students a chance to learn online at home and save parents the cost and time of driving kids to school daily, but also lets teachers teach online as well. For students who have reasons why it's difficult to get up early and commute long distances to school or for those with physical and emotional issues that makes school uncomfortable and for students who just want to learn more at home, online learning is one way to make learning more individualized and creative. It also lets students work at their own level with advanced work or more slowly, whichever helps the student in the best way.
Sacramento's back-to-school online programs also helps cut down the controversy over students who don't have their vaccinations in order as required before they set foot in a school. And for kids with compromised immune systems, it's one more way not to expose a child to the illnesses picked up in classrooms. Students do have opportunities to meet other children and socialize because the online learning opportunity is not the only way to learn. Students do get to attend class twice a week.
Other Online Learning Opportunities for Sacramento K-12 Students
Other opportunities exist for kids who aren't able to or don't want to attend class by choice or for a variety of reasons or preferences and want home schooling online. You could look into back-to-school opportunities such as those listed at the site, K12 Online Schools | K12.com. It's even possible for a child to learn entirely online from kindergarten through graduate school, if research is done on which schools are accredited. Also see, K12 Public School | K12.com.
See also the various K-12 virtual academies. For private schools where you pay tuition that are totally online which are available for Sacramento students, look for online schools where every child learns in his or her own way. You don't want a classroom that tries to make one size fit all.
One online school is K12, which creates a classroom of one: a remarkably effective education option that is individualized to meet each child's needs. In Sacramento, if you want back-to-school online education for your child, look for the full-time, tuition free online public schooling available in many states.
You want an accredited online school available worldwide, full- and part-time. For example, K12, a private school offers more than 200 courses, including advanced placement (AP) and world languages, for direct purchase. K12 has a 96% satisfaction rating* from parents, according to its website. Or perhaps you'd prefer tuition-free online school for your children. If so, then check out the site, Try Public School at Home | ConnectionsAcademy.com.
Look for Tuition-Free Online Classes for Back-to-School Children
In Sacramento, some of the charter and other online schools offer tuition-free online back-to-school classes. See the site, Try Public School at Home | ConnectionsAcademy.com. For example, Connections Academy is a leading, fully accredited provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual schooling for students in grades K through 12.
Through tuition-free public schools, and full-time and part-time private school programs, Connections Academy delivers superior, personalized education for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience our online learning community from anywhere. The combination of certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences creates a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families and students who want an individualized approach to education.
How to Organize a Virtual School from Kindergarten through High School
All you have to do to organize a virtual school from kindergarten through high school is to band together with a group of teachers and parents whose children wish to attend school at home. It's a lot like homeschooling, only it's a virtual school in the Sacramento area run by your local school district. Kids attend school full time at home.
In Sacramento and surrounding regional areas last year, in 2010 the first virtual public school--free--in Sacramento County (Elk Grove) opened for enrollment. Check out the Sacramento Bee, May 10, 2010 article, under "Region in Brief--Elk Grove," Students from region can enroll in virtual school.
Did you know that enrolled families get a stipend if they have Internet access? The entire curriculum and a loaner computer and printer are provided at no cost, and enrolled families receive a stipend for Internet access. That means you don't have to shell out more than a thousand dollars to buy a computer. A computer can be loaned to the enrolled student.
In Sacramento, the Elk Grove Unified School District has done just that--opened enrollment for the first virtual school in this area. It's different from home schooling in the sense that it's public school--free public school. All other virtual schools you probably have to pay for or buy supplies. But this one is free because it's run by the Elk Grove Unified School District. What a blessing to parents who aren't able to chauffeur their kids to school on a daily basis.
Students who wish to attend have all their supplies needed to complete a school year delivered to their homes. They will learn their lessons at home whether their parents can afford to buy a computer or not. But tests will be taken at a campus. There will be meetings once in a while with a teacher. The important point is that learning materials will be delivered to the front door. The school is virtual.
How this differs from home schooling is that in home schooling, parents have to buy the supplies in most cases or pay a fee to school their children at home, for example, if the home schooling supplies are given by various associations or religious groups. But the Sacramento virtual school in Elk Grove is free.
That means, whatever your income, you can afford to go to school free and stay at home while taking classes. Think of all the opportunities this creates for kids to be free from hassles, peer bullies, and safety problems associated with commuting to school, let alone the cost of food.
New wave goes beyond recorded classrooms lectures
Currently online learning means courses that communicate using Skype, chat rooms, blogs, forums, tutoring by computer, instructional games, and video in addition to recorded lectures as podcasts. Face-to-face teacher-student communication now incorporates videoconferencing via Skype, as well as chat rooms, blogs, discussion forums, electronic tutoring, instructional games and push-button audio or video.
Students can use online classes to tackle studies at any hour, from any location. Colleges can use them to unclog bottlenecks that keep students from obtaining vital courses they need to earn degrees on a timely basis, according to the Sacramento Bee article. The only worry is about academic rigor, faculty acceptance and adequate student assistance.
What online instruction can make use of is teachers who don't like to or can't commute
In the past, the teacher unable to drive due to advanced age, disability, or remote location usually was passed over for a more energetic, younger teacher whose insurance wouldn't cost as much. But with teachers at home online or teaching from a studio set up in their home instead of on campus, the use of more retired teachers and retired professionals in other fields as lecturers is a reality.
The only problem there, is traditionally adjunct teachers hired to teach online were paid less than full-time teachers and didn't get health insurance when hired by various universities to teach at home on a part time basis. Most of the job consisted of grading papers and attending to student email or posting courses written by other full-time staff at the university rather than teachers or educators using their own materials or books.
In Sacramento, most college teachers/educators want to maintain faculty control over content, preserve teaching jobs and ensure that students have an adequate opportunity to obtain individual assistance. The focus is on being realistic and not doing any damage.
You're not going to be able to teach certain subjects online to students at home using personal computers and the Internet or Skype if the students need to be working in laboratories with microscopes, chemicals, or in nursing and physical therapy or medical technology programs. But it works well in courses dependent upon students reading a textbook and answering questions, such as in courses where the learning comes from books or videos rather than from hands-on projects such as a sculpture class or building robots and engineering projects.
You're not going to teach hands-on techniques in auto mechanics unless the student is next to a car or truck. But online education works well in an honor history class, English classes, sociology, college math, and computer science subjects.
Online education is big business with private firms offering a range of high-tech products
Younger children online are learning from flashcards and computer software, and there's a huge industry designing safeguards against student cheating. You have people writing programs for online learning. Check out the website of the Assembly Education Committee | CLTA. Currently, California colleges have been increasing the number of credit-bearing courses that are presented entirely or partially online. You have almost one in four California community college students is expected to take at least one online course this year.
Presently you can earn a college degree entirely online. Nearly half of California's 112 community colleges offer degrees and certificates that can be obtained without ever attending a campus class. Who these helps the most are the underserved students such as the mother of infants or young children who can't afford child care, but can take a course online that's open 24 hours a day so the individual can be online the required time when the children are asleep.
Students who are blind and use assistive technology to work with computers that don't use monitors, those who have other disabilities such as low mobility, or people who don't want to drive or pay $100 a month for a bus and light rail pass to commute to college can stay at home and learn. It's great for the older student or the student not coming to college mainly to socialize and find a life partner.
For example, a student can come to campus only for social events and leave the commuting during work hours to stay at home saving the cost of commuting. For example, to fill two family cars with gasoline at the present rates can cost up to $10,000 a year, depending on how many miles you commute to school or work daily. At the end of four years of college education, that would add up in a savings account to a good-size down payment on a house.
Online courses could end bottlenecks at schools where nearly a half-million students were on course waiting lists last year at community colleges
If you're trying to graduate and are not able to sign up for required courses to complete your degree because there are no seats, learning online means you might be able to graduate on time, for example in four years instead of six.
One example of online learning at San Jose State University is how it's teaming with a Silicon Valley startup, Udacity, to offer two math courses and one statistics course to 100 students apiece. If you're taking math courses online, you want to be sure the college you're taking it from is accredited, such as a state university, and that the course is offered for credit and not only to the general public as an extended studies course for enrichment. The math and statistics courses at San Jose State University are accredited.
And the courses will be given for the usual college credit, with enrollment open not only to San Jose State students but also to veterans, military personnel and high school and community college students. That means you can take those math and statistics courses online where you'll be able to study them without losing all those hours commuting in heavy California traffic to campus.
California State University started a systemwide program in January, 2013, California State Online
The program provides opportunities to complete course work for a handful of degrees to students who have acquired some CSU units but are having difficulty attending class, according to the Sacramento Bee article. And also the University of California is launching a systemwide effort, UC Online Education, to create lower division, high-demand classes. Separately, the 10 campuses offer about 170 online courses for undergraduate credit and 80 for graduate credit. Three campuses offered an online master's degree program in 2011-12. The good news is that the courses can be assessed remotely.
If you sit in a classroom, unless you have a video camera, which can be distracting or not allowed in some classrooms, the professor may not want to be recorded in any way, audio or video because it places the other students sitting there at a disadvantage since they have no way to view the lecture again and take notes. People learn better by becoming familiar with new material by viewing it repeatedly as compared to sitting in a classroom and not being able to see what's on the blackboard/whiteboard or hear what the professor said because of where you sit, your hearing loss, or noise and other distractions in the classroom.
Also, when the doors are closed in a classroom filled with students, the carbon dioxide levels rise, and you're exposed to the coughs and sneezes of other students during the flu and virus season when classes are in session, doors and windows are closed, and the room may be too hot or too cold. Then there's the problem of finding parking or waiting for the bus. Students pay a large fee for parking space.
Too many students get shut out of classes needed to graduate as tuition rises
The main problem with classroom seating is that there are too many students and not enough seats which makes obtaining needed courses impossible for many so they graduate two years later than they could have. Or they run out of money and drop out. More students might be able to attend college or graduate school if it were online by choice.
Reviewing the same online studies, however, the Community College Research Center cautioned that participating students tended to be prepared for college, so the findings might not apply equally to under-prepared students. According to the Sacramento Bee article, in California, "community college students who take courses online are less likely to complete them than their peers in traditional classrooms, recording success rates of 57 percent versus 67 percent respectively, in 2009-10." What's more interesting is that you'll probably see more introverts taking online courses than students who come to college or graduate schools to socialize, attend parties, or find a marriage partner.
Free courses online
What you get when online education is offered free worldwide is a lack in the type of interaction that students have face-to-face on campus. You may get the same behavior as you now have online where students think they're more anonymous online with their peers. But those misusing their remote locations are easily tracked. But class size is not an issue, or is it when online? If you're traveling too far to campus or are low-mobility, you want online courses you can take when at home where you don't have to be as mobile as if you commuted to campus.
What you have most with online classes is flexibility. If you're a journalist, it's easier to interview people by Skype or phone rather than by traveling to their location. It's cheaper when there's fewer travel expenses. You don't have to spend as much money online as in person.
Flexibility, affordability, and availability is most important in online courses
For example, if your dyslexic and taking an art class online, you can submit audio or video commentary instead of struggling with writing, unless you're using speech to text software such as Dragon Systems to talk into a microphone and have the text written out without you having to look up the spelling of each word. Students enrolled in some online classes lived in several different countries, were in the military and traveling, or worked full-time.
Courses that I have taught online in the past include professional and creative writing and public speaking, which was very effective when students viewed their own videos in public speaking situations in front of a group. How it was done was the public speaking students joined with Toastmasters and had their five-minute speeches video-recorded.
The writing courses were suited for online submission and discussion such as the business writing, professional writing, and creative writing curriculum. Emphasis was on creativity enhancement and writing great sentences. Other courses included writing great dialogue and "behavioral tag lines" in scripts and novels.
And the journalism online courses that I taught in 2002 were ideal for online instruction mainly due to the flexibility. Most of the students were employed full-time, in the military, or at home with small children trying to finish their four-year degree. The quality of the students' works was excellent because of the flexibility in time for reflection and letting the piece cool, then checking the grammar.
It's up to the school to hire teachers who are prepared and familiar with digital teaching, for example. For most students struggling to make ends meet, the online classes can be very helpful in creating space for the courses thousands of students need to graduate in time at a price that's affordable. Quality of experience needs to be reliable, accredited, and consistent. If courses are free online, you'll get more life-long learners of all ages.