7 Reasons to Take an Online Class—3 Reasons to Not
- Virtual learning is the future. If your kids are collegebound, a significant portion of their learning will take place online. Colleges save a lot of money by offering virtual classes. Kids who head to campus already comfortable with digital tools like Canvas (a learning management system), Zoom, and online textbooks will be ready for success.
- Virtual learning introduces students to digital tools and skills. How we learn and the resources we use to learn are changing rapidly. Learning how to learn online is a new skill set—most of us parents never had to learn this way. But our children do. Enrolling in a few online courses a year during middle school and high school is a gentle way to help them acquire these 21st century skills.
- Online learning saves time and gas. Add up the time spent driving your kids to co-op classes or extra curriculars—couldn’t you use that time for something more important? Think of the fuel you’re consuming! Online learning is more efficient—that’s why it’s the future.
- Online learning diversifies your child’s learning. Peers from around the world are more likely to make-up an online class than a local co-op. Even when your online community shares a similar worldview or is made up of only homeschoolers, your kids are being prepared to step into the wider world. They will become more skilled at expressing their viewpoints graciously and listening carefully, even when they may not agree with the speaker.
- More niche classes can be found online. While your local homeschool co-op may not have enough students for AP Calculus or advanced languages, you can find these classes online. This allows your children to follow their passions, even when you don’t have the expertise to teach to them.
- Your child’s future job will likely be virtual. Ongoing training for that job will likely be virtual. Acquiring digital skills now will help your child make an informed choice about his or her 21st century career.
- Online learning helps your child become more responsible and self-motivated. That’s just a positive benefit to the reality that online learning requires more of students—a virtual teacher can’t hold a student accountable to the same degree that an in-person teacher does. Most online classes meet once or twice a week—not daily. But as stated in no. 1—virtual learning is the future, so helping your children learn to take charge of their learning is a critical skill they need before they leave home.
What Online Learning Can’t Beat
- Face to face learning helps students develop better relationships with adults and peers. Online learning just can’t duplicate this. Even though I run an online academy, I still know that most of a student’s learning should be one-on-one with Mom or Dad, or face-to-face at a local homeschool co-op. Important developmental milestones require in person relationships, and kids need to know the difference. Virtual relationships are not the same thing, and we don’t want to give our kids a false impression. The only way to know the difference is to experience authentic, in person relationships and compare those to our virtual ones. If your circumstances dictate that your child be fully remote, choose classes that do not require students to be online most of the day. It’s much better if they can sign on, get their assignments, and work on those offline.
- Learning in person provides more accountability and support. Kids need a certain level of maturity before they take an online class—you don’t want to enroll them prematurely. It is much easier to forget about the online class, then it is your face-to-face co-op classes or daily homeschooling at the kitchen table.
- Online classes are typically more expensive. You can barter among your local homeschool friends, or charge much less for a local class. The teacher is likely to be more available for questions and support outside of class. Because it is easy to forget about that online class, it is easier to not get your money’s worth from it.
Coming up: How to Make the Most of an Online Class