Reflecting the increasing omnipresence of technology in our society, a recent Chicago Tribune article reported on Illinois’ first public virtual elementary school, which is preparing to open for the upcoming academic year.
The Chicago Virtual Charter School tailors an individualized curriculum depending on a student’s particular aptitude – an arguably advantageous approach for the gifted child or students with learning disabilities. Students are expected to spend roughly 20-40 percent of school time on the computer, enhanced with more hands-on education and parental guidance.
Although the Illinois school is not the first of its kind (see Weblogg-ed’s post on Microsoft’s School of the Future and Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy), the issue of electronic education is highly debated and met with opposition from many home-school proponents, some teachers’ unions and more traditionally minded parents.
The debate also continues beyond elementary school; electronic higher education programs, such as MBAs, are also valued differently within the corporate sphere and among the universities themselves.
Education is truly coming to the masses, as teachers and students can share information in industry or peer forums, thanks to online sites like Moodle, Blackboard, Chalksite and MindPicnic, which can serve as think tanks or inspiration centers for the academic community. 3D virtual worlds like Second Life are creating another place environment to interact with others and learn virtually. Additionally, technology advances like that of EmSense which offer devices, like the one shown here. track and detect a students feelings. The EmSense software alters curriculum based on the collected sensations data to focus more intensely on particular areas where a student may have lost focus.
Bottom line: with the Internet as an education resource for any student at any age, electronic education is on the rise and here to stay.