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Memo Online Course Expansion - Michigan State University. Est


									                                                             Michigan State University
                                                             Fall 2004


       To:             Hope College Preparatory High School
       From:           Nanette Wiesner – Curriculum Consultant
       Date:           December 24, 2004
       Re:             Online Course Expansion

       The specific purpose of this memo is to provide documented information and
opinions derived from this in support of expanding online courses for high school
students at our unique educational institution. My premise is that offering additional
modalities of learning will not only aid but catapult many students into a positive,
motivationally and educationally enhanced learning experience.

        Bottom line rationale stems from a strong need for alternative means of learning
required for subjects for purposes of graduation, and creating additional advanced level
courses for those students who meet specific criteria. In essence, students could be
offered an online version of a college prep United States history course traditionally
taught at this time, and an advanced placement U.S. history course, not traditionally
offered at this time. Based on the mission of our educational institution, both
aforementioned courses grant students a means of accelerated course completion for
purposes of entering college early or simultaneously. Further rationale perpetuates a self-
generated, progressive, innovative, and inherently successful program of flexibility
oriented online and hybrid courses, without sacrificing mandatory curriculum,
instruction, standards, and assessment. With careful and deliberate planning and
delivery, opportunity for student-instructor-peer collaboration will provide an exceptional
and accessible learning option for a full range of learners and learning levels. Virtual
high schools, such as Florida Virtual School, University of Missouri High School, and
Federal Government five year pilot program Virtual High School, as introduced in Gene
Maeroff’s A Classroom of One (260-266), have demonstrated that online learning can
dynamically “enhance regular high schools.”

        Take into consideration the significant and effective values of high school online
courses. No course, implemented in the true spirit and high degree of educational
objectives, will lack the rigor, interaction, discussion, retention-rate, or continual
assessment and evaluation, mandatory for engaging the student in strong, inquiry-based,
well-rounded education. According to the National Association of State Boards of
Education (NASBE) and despite caution of thoughtless venture into a cyber age of
learning, “e-learning is an innovation that should be implemented as soon as possible
(Maeroff, 266).” With proper criteria and guidelines, such as those set up by appropriate
accreditation institutions used in higher education, online courses will maintain integrity
and quality expectations by the educational institution, students, parents, administration,
and instructors alike. Maeroff lists key guidelines and considerations established by eight
existing regional accrediting commissions (179-183). The guidelines will be dynamic as
online learning must continue to be in order to grow and remain effective.

        Debates have centered within the effectiveness of online learning, and the obvious
impact of technologically based learning for all levels of education. Online degrees and
courses will not disappear, but neither will the traditional face-to-face classroom. No
need to panic or feel that education is being compromised in the face of innovative
learning. Introducing a course through a computer delivery system can serve to enhance
and provide heightened strategies and methods of learning in a technologically advanced
global society. Listening to one such debate between representatives of MIT, University
of Phoenix, and critics, such as Carol Sargent who wrote Traditional Degrees for Non-
Traditional Students, can serve to create a healthy and open channel of communication
and justified considerations on both ends of the online learning spectrum. The above
debate can be “computer” accessed at The Connection radio broadcast of “Online

        It is with strong contention that I recommend that this high school must
increasingly offer sound and well orchestrated online courses. Despite the fear that
online courses will take over the traditional classroom is like succumbing to training
wheels never being necessary to riding a bike. In my opinion this is not going to happen.
Foundation and principles of education will not disappear but rather gather strength
through subject matter driving curriculum, not technology.

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