Monday, August 15, 2011

Are Hybrids the wave of the future for schools as well as cars?

BMW’s New Vision: 155-MPH Plug-In Hybrid

The model of a Cyber-Charter school such as I described last week is one interesting and obvious one way of addressing the changing demands of education today.  One of the important aspects of learning however that is missing from that model is the element of personal contact with a teacher or even other students.
In the CAVA model, due to state law - it says in one of the promotional ads, there is no 'FaceTime' with the teacher or other students.  I'm not sure how that works exactly, but it leaves a pretty substantial hole in the teaching process.  'Collaboration' is emphasized on a digital basis however, which is a help and another help is that it  is a modified 'home-school' situation, with a requirement for parents to participate as 'teaching-coaches' in their child's education.

When it comes to home schooling, I have some very definite opinions as to its effectiveness that I have developed over many years of working with families and students  My observation has been that home-schooling either works very well, or it doesn't work well at all and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of  middle ground.   It turns out that I'm not alone in my opinions which are supported by a recent article in the "Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science 43, no. 3 (July 2011): 195-202" on the effectiveness of homeschooling.  Based on  statistical evidence in matched situations, the researchers came to interesting conclusions on homeschooling that you may be interested in.  You can read about the report here.

A better model for cyber-charter school education, at least as it reflects the art of effective teaching of the arts seems to be the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School.  The program may be better described as a hybrid online program, because it includes classroom and online components as well as considerable parental involvement. In other words, it is both High Tech, and High Touch.  It also provides structure, which is a key element in successful homeschooling as pointed out in the Canadian study. while still providing a great deal of flexibility in scheduling and classes.  Socialization: In addition to the very comprehensive online components, there are regional activities, field-trips, monthly meetings with classmates, and more.  Rather than try and describe their program for you, I'll let you read about for yourselves it at the PALCS site. If anyone is familiar with the program, I encourage your comments on this site.

One of the features of the program that intrigues me is that the performing arts students have the flexibility to learn, practice, and study their skills at home, but yet are able to come together at specific times during the year to present concerts, dance and theatre performances and art exhibitions with their classmates, under the direction of the educators in the program.  The page describing the performing arts part of PALCS is here, and a link to a page by one of the educators in the program is here. Remember that this is an approved public school that provides superior training in the arts.  As Thomas West, the educator that I referenced above describes it, it is an 'experiment in excellence'.  What a different approach than eliminating the arts, wasting money on failed systems, or being 'mired in mediocrity' as many of our public schools today.   Kudos to PALCS, and Ill have more thoughts next time.

Ron Zell

(c) 2011 by Eduarts4us. All rights reserved.

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