Tuesday, January 18, 2011

E-learning in Florida

[O]ver 7,000 students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools enrolled in a program in which core subjects are taken using computers in a classroom with no teacher. A “facilitator” is in the room to make sure students progress. That person also deals with any technical problems.
These virtual classrooms, called e-learning labs, were put in place last August as a result of Florida’s Class Size Reduction Amendment, passed in 2002.
Some parents and students were not informed about this new class structure, and one Miami high school PTA formed a committee to help address any confusion.  Some teachers and parents are skeptical.
But Michael G. Moore, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University, said programs that combine virtual education and face-to-face instruction could be effective. This is called the “blended learning concept.”
“There is no doubt that blended learning can be as effective and often more effective than a classroom,” said Mr. Moore, who is also editor of The American Journal of Distance Education. He said, however, that research and his experiences had shown that proper design and teacher instruction within the classroom were necessary. A facilitator who only monitors student progress and technical issues within virtual labs would not be categorized as part of a blended-learning model, he said. Other variables include “the maturity and sophistication of the student,” he said.
"Could be effective" - I've heard that before.  I wonder if any rigorous research supports this innovation as an effective teaching strategy.

Florida Has Classes Without Teachers - NYT

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