Creativity is not just essential for student growth, but must to be utilized by schools if the U.S. educational system is going to become be competitive on a global level. We must constantly be creative in how we include poverty stricken families and families who have English language learners. If we are able to incorporate e-learning into campus teaching/learning strategies, we have the potential to level the academic playing field.
Can new advancements in online education delivery help families with students who have language barriers and families with students whose parents work schedules do not allow them to take their children to school? 74.4% of American households have access to the internet, and that number is growing (File & Ryan, 2013). By utilizing the internet as an avenue for information and knowledge sharing, those students who cannot maintain grades, due to the previously mentioned issues, can have a way of tapping into the American educational system in an effort to better their standard of living.
There seems to be a rather large push for more and more online curriculum delivery in the United States educational system. Technology is starting to push its way to the forefront of major discussions that revolve around student success. In his study, Rauh (2011) has examined the value of an online charter school, and more importantly, how an online curriculum can benefit low-income families.
E-Learning And The Poverty Stricken Student
The most interesting part of the study was the fact that although online education might not be the best choice for all students, where lower income families were concerned, there did appear to be a benefit to choosing online school versus traditional “brick and mortor” schools. Unfortunately, a large portion of that particular demographic, high poverty families- the one that would benefit most from an online school, do not have access to that form of curriculum. This is unfortunate, because many issues that are associated with low-income students, bullying, race issues, ethnic issues, and even gender issues, are not relevant in an online educational system. Those stressors, for the most part, are non-existent.
It would be beneficial, according to the author, for future researchers to attempt to examine how best to overcome the lack of availability of online schools to students who hail from poverty stricken communities.
Moreover, if a student has several absences from school, due to the fact that mom and dad had to be at work at 5:00am and the student had no way to school, then that student stands the chance of repeating a grade, or worse, dropping out of school completely. Sadly, some students do not show up for school because there just is not enough money to put gas in the car. When these students are not in school, their chances of rising out of the financial situation their family finds itself in diminish. If these students were able to connect with teachers and receive quality teaching via the internet, then their chances of success would increase.
E-learning For The English Language Learner
This strategy may also prove beneficial to students who are new to the English language. While attempting to teach in a standard classroom, a teacher must adjust his/her teaching style in an effort to include students who may not have a grasp of the English language. In no fault of their own, the teacher is taking valuable teaching/learning time away from the students who already communicate effectively in English. In a world of standardized testing, teachers need to be able to focus one-hundred percent on the essential knowledge tasks, so that the students will perform well on their standardized tests. In all honesty, standardized testing is a sore subject for this author…but that will need to be covered in whole different article. If the English Language Learner were able to access the same teaching, via the Internet from their house, or the Internet from in a separate classroom, they could receive one-on-one advice and skill training in their home language. If that core class training is coupled with English proficiency training, then the student is not only learning the core classes, he is also learning how to communicate in English.
E-Learning Does Not Have To Be Scary
The dread and stress associated with online learning can be humbling to some students who are less outspoken and more introverted. Barbour, Siko, Sumara, and Simuel-Everage (2012) were able to identify many of the presumed shortcomings of an online class by documenting the experiences of one student, Darlene, as she navigated the ins and outs of her online course.
What the researchers found was that with online education, comes quite a bit of responsibility. Darlene was a typical student, who was able to communicate with her peers, but not willing to interact with her teacher. This common trait of the modern high school student is compounded when taking online courses. E-Learning demands quite a bit of interaction with the teacher, and ignoring this component can lead to the student falling behind.
Unlike a traditional physical classroom, the virtual classroom calls for many technological skill such as the ability to utilize software like Facetime ©. Instead of taking the time to understand how to use her classroom tools, Darlene simple texted or emailed her cohort, making for a less than personable experience. The authors explain that a better understanding of technology is essential to the success of the online student.
It is worth noting that the authors did explain, on page 14, how although Darlene’s experience was less than successful, studies show that a majority of the students in her school expressed an enjoyment of being a part of a virtual classroom.
The authors conclude with the advice, for schools that offer virtual classrooms, of making sure students who enter an eLearning course understand not only how to used tools such as Facetime © and Blackboard, but also the importance of following up with the teacher when assignment are unclear or confusing.
E-Learning Is Already Successful At The College Level
The success of online colleges and universities should be looked at as a roadmap for how to get from Point A to Point B, with Point A being underprivileged students and their lack of adequate teaching, and Point B being a successful educational experience. By attempting to replicate the success of online collegiate studies, some middle and high schools are utilizing software such as Blackboard® and Moodle® for homework and assignment tasks. By opening this door, these select few schools are allowing researchers to test whether or not a guided online environment is effective and even feasible.
As the cost of living continues to increase, an online learning environment could be the answer to many financial issues American families will eventually face. Working from home is already a strategy that many corporations are utilizing, so it only makes sense that learning from home is a plausible next step. It saves gas money in that there is no driving out of the way to drop-off and pick-up. Schools could save money on brick and mortar issues that will no longer exist. Teachers can work from home, thus saving them money in gas costs, and they could choose to teach more classes now that they have more prep time due to no travel, thus allowing them to make more money per stipend class.
The impact online learning/teaching can have on school districts themselves, is also worth looking into. From an administrative standpoint, the fewer students in the classrooms mean a cost savings on expenditures such as paper, books, facilities maintenance, and even electricity. These residual cost savers can eventually find their way into the community households by way of lower taxes needed to cover educational costs.
There will always be a need for social interaction between students, but this interaction can take place in class chat rooms via FaceTime®, or some similar type of software. Another great place for socialization is a mandatory athletic/physical education environment that meets two to three evenings a week, when mom and dad are off work and can take students to train/workout. These types of classes are not so much based on comprehending the English language as they are about comprehending taught processes and procedures, thus they can have students who speak English, and students who have not yet acquired a full understanding of the English language.
Online education, at the middle and high school level, has the potential to help many students who normally would not have regular access to much needed learning. Through quality teaching via the strategic technologically advanced method of eLearning, America has the opportunity to have major success not only in the area of world test scores, but as a global leader in education.
Access to online curriculum is becoming more relevant in the lives of all people from all walks of life. Beaton (2012) explains how society does not owe internet access to people of poverty, nor does society owe it to people with disabilities, but society does owe a quality education to everyone, and if that means allowing curriculum to be delivered to those less fortunate via eLearning and online schools, then they need to be allowed access.
When the students plagued by low-income and disabilities are afforded the same education as others, be it in a traditional school or via the Internet, they too have the promise of a successful future. A future that sees them rising above the issues that they currently face. Nobody has a right to take that away from them, and no one has a right to corner the market on online education. Beaton explains, on page
Students are already stressed enough. When you add financial factors and immobility to that equation, those less fortunate bear a huge burden. In section nine, Beaton (2012) states that, “by implementing eLearning into the current system, disadvantaged populations get a double-whammy. It wasn’t working before, and now the tools are not easily accessible to those with limited finances, those who are not literate, those with physical limitations, or those who are aged.” Thus, we must create an eLearning system that is accessible by all and for all to use.
For eLearning to be truly productive, it must be geared to meet the needs of the disadvantaged. Once the limitations of online schools have been stripped away, those less fortunate will have a better chance at success, no matter what hardships they face.
Barbour, M., Siko, J., Sumara, J., & Simuel-Everage, K. (2012). Narratives from the online frontier: A K-12 student’s experience in an online learning environment. Qualitative Report, 17
Beaton, C. (2012). Do we owe them? The impact of eLearning on disadvantaged communities. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.cuportland.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1328341625?accountid=10248
File, Thom; Ryan, Camille. (2013). Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013. American Community Survey Reports, ACS (28)
Rauh, J. (2011). The Utility of Online Choice Options: Do Purely Online Schools Increase the Value to Students? Education Policy Analysis Archives, 19(34).
Mitchell Collin Fairchild