by Krista Sobel
Krista argues that Florida was the first to launch into online learning in any significant way with the Florida Virtual School (FLVS). This is true. It is also true that Florida had significant growing pains. In 2013, enrollment in the virtual school dropped 32 percent and funding reductions caused serious layoffs. It seems that FLVS was allowing students enrolled full time in public schools to take multiple online courses at the same time. They made a lot of money using that policy. The legislature stepped in. There must have been a quality gap somewhere.
Quality gaps of other online companies reached national attention as well.
FLVS filed a 2014 lawsuit and won against K12 Inc., the mega online course management company, over copyright infringement. The State of Florida filed a suit against K12 Inc. for falsifying teachers who were assigned to courses. Many local districts countered the practice by negotiating their own online academies taught by local teachers. The districts also kept the records of student progress. They might purchase rights to online course content, or they may develop their own courses, but they control the process.
Problems with for-profit online companies are everywhere. Politico published a series on the academic failure and profiteering of the online charter schools. They may advertise blended learning experiences, but the reality is too often a computer or two in a corner. What is clear is that citizens have a duty to be wary but an obligation to recognize the opportunities new technologies can bring. Read Krista’s vision for change.