Online learning has been around for many years, but as we advance with technology, online learning has begun to mean many different things to many different people. From completely independent courses that a student does on their own with little support to fully blended courses that are part online and part in person with a dedicated instructor. This also means that online learning has come under much criticism for not being a successful form of learning. However, much of this research is very focused on answering one question, Does a student do better in an online course rather than an in-person course? I suggest that this question has already been answered! We know from the greats Vygotsky, Dewey, Maslow etc. that teacher proximity or connection to the student increases learning. I would even argue that if a student can take a class in person with a caring teacher they can connect with, that is a better option for learning. However, online learning becomes an option (after videoconferencing) when said class or teacher is not available.
Online classes provide access to learning that is otherwise not accessible. High quality and flexible online courses provide students access who do not have other options. This includes students in locations where courses or teachers are limited or not available. But what about students who DO have access in their local brick and mortar school? These are often students who for one reason or another do not fit the brick and mortar schedule, whether it is working full or part time, taking care of a child or a family, inability to attend the school due to illness, traveling, or focus on such things as professional sports, music or dance. Online learning can provide courses for these students that will fit their busy schedules and help students to earn their diplomas despite other focuses in their lives.
Finally, many people and researchers argue that students who take online courses for credit recovery are not benefiting from the learning or they struggle greatly and drop out. However, as an educator and an online teacher, I will argue that this is most likely due to the lack of support and skill building that is needed for these students. In a brick and mortar classroom, a teacher would identify these missing skills and teach them to a student. I expect the same thing should happen online. A caring online instructor will build a connection with their students online and provide an online community that a student can feel supported and successful. This is what AK Grad aims to provide. We have the ability provide flexible courses to help students gain missing life skills, such as time management or goal setting so students can be successful online. Like any learning, the passion and desire to learn is part of the equation, but a caring and supportive instructor can make all the difference. We want and believe students can succeed and attain their High School Diploma on their own terms.