I got a postcard today from a virtual charter school. One where kids can essentially take all their classes from home, on the computer. I called them up, not because I am dying to enroll my kids, but because I wondered if they could take some of the classes- like a language class, or maybe an advance math class, as a supplement or addition to their regular coursework in school. No go- it’s an all or nothing proposition.
But this brings up a question- why couldn’t there be more classes a kid could take for “credit” in middle school or even earlier, available online? It would promote early computer literacy. It would allow kids needing more challenging curriculum to get it in a cost-effective manner. Kids could take remedial classes online, to boost their understanding of material presented in class. We could turn education into a truly multi-media experience, helping visual and auditory learners at the same time.
My kid could see if he was ready for an advanced math class, or get remedial writing support. Individualized education plans could be designed for each child, allowing them to progress through school at their own pace, as long as they met certain goals and standards.
Sure, there are loads of problems with this. Social justice issues with the digital divide. Ability of some kids to accelerate, and maybe not enough support for kids that need it. The time and effort in designing an a la carte curriculum would be tedious, as would ensuring quality. But it would also solve the age old problem of even Individualized education plans being small group education, not prescriptive education for individuals.
We’ll see what comes to pass, but I hope some elements of a la carte education become available, soon.