“With a normal high school, everything is always scheduled for you,” he said. “With [online learning], you have to keep on top of things.”
Some people might wonder if Wall feels deprived of the typical social aspects of a bricks-and-mortar high school, but he says he does not.
“I’ve got friends from when I was attending traditional school, and friends through karate and [who] I meet from other activities, like camps,” he said.
Wall has even met his virtual classmates through organized field trips. He is able to collaborate with his classmates virtually through his computer, as well as chat with both teachers and peers on a regular basis.
Connections Academy students have access to guidance counselors to help them navigate the college application process. Adding a high school component to the company’s virtual offerings made it necessary to provide a robust guidance-counselor support staff, a company representative said.
Even virtual-school teachers at the symposium said they liked many of the freedoms that come with teaching in an online environment.
Not just students, but teachers, too, can become frustrated in a traditional school setting, because much of their time is devoted to tasks such as asking students for late passes or collecting various assignments, said Mishele Newkirk-Smith, a former classroom teacher in Washington state who is now a science teacher with Insight School of Washington.
“I’m not a disciplinarian now; I’m an educator,” she said, adding: “Online, there is more one-on-one education.”
“I have always looked for … alternative ways for students to learn. All students do not learn the same way–they are totally different,” said Deloris Brown, a former school principal who is currently principal of Insight School of South Carolina.
In a traditional classroom, educators can “try to think outside of the box, but you’re still faced with the one-size-fits-all model,” she said. “If we know that all students are different, then we have to do something different. This is going to be one of the major reform efforts that education will see.”