Dear Commons Community,
Michigan was the first state to require that all high school students take an online course or its equivalent. An article (subscription required) in The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on interviews of a number of college personnel for their perspectives on students who met this requirement. Here is an excerpt:
“Nine years ago, when Michigan began requiring high-school students to take an online course before graduating, it was the only state to do so. Since then, though, five other states — as well as some school districts — have followed suit.
The result is a growing group of students — in Michigan and around the country — who have experienced some form of online learning by the time they get to college. During the 2013-14 school year, 65,130 high-school students in Michigan reported taking an online course, according to a survey by Michigan Virtual University, a nonprofit corporation that provides online professional-development training. That’s about 15,000 more students than took such a course the previous year.
Now those students are arriving on college campuses with greater expectations that technology will be an integral part of their academic experience. By exposing students to how technology is best used in the classroom, several Michigan educators say, the requirement has in part led those students to expect college classrooms to also make thorough use of technology.
And their standards are rising. At Michigan State University, students don’t just want technology to feature in the classroom. They’re looking for it to be incorporated in a more productive way, says William Hart-Davidson, associate dean of graduate studies and an expert in online learning.
In other words, students see going online as about more than just turning in homework, he says. Some students come to a campus better prepared to use learning-management systems; others are more able to juggle an online course with other classes on campus. Most of them are savvier about technology.
“They’ve become a bit more critical consumers,” Mr. Hart-Davidson says.
More Demands of Colleges
Experience taking online courses can make students more successful when they take their first collegiate-level course online, says Adam L. Cloutier, director of teaching and learning support services at Henry Ford Community College, in Dearborn, Mich. They’re more focused and “better equipped to navigate the college system and our learning-management system,” he says.
But they haven’t necessarily become expert online learners. Students can fulfill Michigan’s requirement by taking a true online course in high school or by incorporating “online learning experiences” into required courses. Those experiences could include working with a blog or a WebQuest, an inquiry done completely online.
But not all online experiences are created equal, says Allison Powell, vice president for state and district services at the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, and many schools’ attempts to build technology into their courses aren’t well thought out.
“Kids know how to use technology, but they know how to use it for their social lives and for fun,” Ms. Powell says. “They still need a lot of work on learning how to use it for being productive and to use it to learn.”
The article goes on to provide a number of other insights.