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Online High School Explosion: Stanford Joins The Revolution

Neutrinos aren’t the only things that seem to be moving faster than light these days; the revolution in American education is also moving at warp speed.  Already this fall there have been stories about large new financial interests getting into the world of online education and about the rapid growth in online high schools.

Now comes word that Stanford University is throwing its weight behind a national virtual educational program aimed at gifted and talented students.  Beginning this year, students will be getting high school diplomas from Stanford Online High.  Middlebury College and the University of Nebraska are among other well known schools jumping into the business.  Streaming video allows students all over the country and presumably ultimately the world to interact directly with teachers and classmates while accessing enrichment materials that many regular classrooms can’t match.  The cost of a Stanford Online High diploma is high, but much cheaper than the tuition at a conventional top private high school.

Via Meadia has no idea where all this is headed, but amid all the gloom and doom about the United States, the blistering and still accelerating pace of change in our educational system reminds us that change is America’s forte.  This is what we do — and the ability to make changes peacefully and quickly is likely to be the single most important factor in managing the stresses and taking advantage of the twenty-first century.  Good luck to the students at Stanford Online High; please let Via Meadia know whether you are planning a digital prom.

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  • thibaud

    I’ve looked into Stanford’s online HS, participated in virtual “Open House” sessions with staff and principal, emailed q’s to them. My take is that the idea is superb but the execution by Stanford is lacking. Running a school of any sort requires far more than simply giving lectures. The admin lacks many critical resources, is skeleton-thin, and has not begun to even think about how to supply the beyond-the-classroom/lecture experiences – club, athletic, “mixer, conversational/social/hanging-out etc – that are at least as important to the formation of a young person as formal academic instruction. There’s also been little thought given to those academic endeavors which simply cannot be done virtually, e.g. scientific lab experimentation.

    For the student, the classroom experience, whether virtual or physical, is only one part of the experience of a school. Students learn in many ways, and if there’s no real interaction with peers, you’ll quickly hit a ceiling on the value that comes from a superior lecture or set of lectures plus a superior curriculum. Neither Stanford nor Khan nor anyone else trying to crack this nut has said anything new or intelligent about this problem.

  • Corlyss

    Interesting how the formal, government owned and operated system, having failed so spectacularly to meet even the most basic needs of the population for 60 years now, has produced robust alternatives that succeed where it has come a cropper.

  • Soul

    I know that my oldest nephew over the summer took an online class. It was done to prepare him for the top high school he is attending now. Seems to have worked. In his first year so far top grades for the young man. All are excited for him. It was his idea to attend the difficult school. Well, not all grades are in, and one course will be of concern – religious studies. It is a Catholic school, and religion is new to him.

    My mom, a school teacher, never cared for me saying this, but thought it true, I recall when in school I learning easier with male teachers. Don’t know why that was, but figured it had to do with the different ways that men and women communicate. And I might be unique with noticing this, but it does make me wonder how or if cyber school will effect gender learning. Probably a wait and see thing, in our evolving education system.

  • Scott

    I think you may mean the 21st century. Beyond that, virtual education has been a growing part of many public school districts across the country. Some do it well, some stink at it. Most decent districts are trying a number of different approaches to meet the needs of individual students. Virtual schooling is but one tool. Education has a long ways to go but the best part is that the vast majority of people in education know it.

  • Charles

    When I was in grade school I took several computer-based courses in writing and math through Stanford’s program. Course content (consisting of readers and lectures recorded on CD-ROM) was delivered by mail, and I communicated with instructors using e-mail and regularly scheduled telephone calls. The courses generally allowed me to move at my own pace and I learned a great deal. The best part was that the courses contained a substantial private tutoring component — instructors were able to work closely with me on problem areas. (This was particularly helpful in writing courses.) The program very nicely supplemented the traditional public schools I attended, which, though excellent, were unable to provide students with much individual attention.

  • Luke Lea

    The printing press resulted in the Reformation. What will the Internet do?

  • Toni

    The gifted and talented don’t need Stanford High School. Poor and rural kids do. (“Poor and rural” is often redundant.”

  • foresttrailacade

    Today’s busy life learning through internet is one of the advance ways of successful completion of the academics. Online education is the best choice and provides flexibility to students in terms of time and pace of degree. This type of information is really inspiration for the online educators to fulfill their career and educational goals.

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