Last updated: 07.06.12

E-learning 'should impact high schools'

High schools ought to become involved with online learning, an expert has said.

In an article for Newsday, former superintendent of Valley Stream Central and Bellmore-Merrick Central high school districts Marc Bernstein highlighted the virtual learning environments recently unveiled by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

As these two prestigious educational centres have begun to provide free online learning courses for college students, this is considered a "stamp of approval for this use of technology", he declared.

The two facilities have joined other institutions in determining that e-learning projects can be an "effective way to advance education", the specialist stated.

He noted this approach could herald "a true revolution" to learning and teaching within high schools, pointing out online training does not require instructors and students to partake in regularly-scheduled meetings.

Traditional models of education involving around 30 pupils, sat in "tidy rows" and facing a teacher, "can and should be replaced" by a combination of face-to-face tuition and interactive online learning courses, focused on a curriculum that motivates students, the expert declared.

Former superintendent Geoff Johnson recently made a similar argument in the Times Colonist, suggesting that while the classic classroom model of education is not yet obsolete, "it's getting there".

Mr Bernstein pointed out teenagers are typically somewhat capable at utilising technology and are prepared for the challenges of distance learning online.

He forecast a possible future wherein high school lessons combine online training and teacher direction, with each format taking place on alternating days.

The lessons led by technology would theoretically be able to cope with an unlimited class size, while teachers would highlight and review the goals outlined in the curriculum and detailed in computer-generated assessment reports.

Furthermore, these professionals could be used to provide human contact of both a personal and academic nature, compensating for something online learning courses would not be able to provide.