Last week our governor signed a bill requiring high school students in the state to take at least one online course to graduate, beginning with the class of 2017.
I’m still not sure why.
A spokesperson for the governor says new requirement will “better prepare students for the job market of the 21st century”*.
I don’t understand how.
I’ve been facilitating online course for adults off and on for more than ten years. I took my first virtual class back in the days of the dial-up modem when the content was little different from correspondence courses that were snail mailed to your home.
That certainly doesn’t make me an expert on the matter, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about online learning is that it’s not the right solution for everyone. Some people don’t work well detached from the human contact that comes with a face-to-face situation.
Supporters of this idea argue that kids need to learn to work online because jobs increasingly demand those skills (now that we’re more than 10% of the way into the 21st century).
I agree. But is a formal course, especially one that is likely to be a virtual replica of a face-to-face class, necessarily the best solution?
More important than learning to take an online course – a somewhat narrow skill set that really only benefits the growing post-secondary education business – we should be helping students understand how to present themselves online. Allowing them to practice crafting messages for different audiences using a variety of delivery tools as part of their “standard” curriculum.
If you look carefully at that “job market” of the 21st century (which is now), workers increasingly need to know how to market themselves and learn new skills (often on the fly) to adapt for an ever changing employment landscape.
Is taking a canned online course going to help with any of that? I doubt it.
*Has anyone else noticed that we are already more than 10% into the 21st century and still our “leaders” discuss it as if it’s still in the distant future?