Implications of Virtual Schooling for Socialization and Community

Implications of Virtual Schooling for Socialization and Community

Glenn Russel (Monash University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-563-4.ch048
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Abstract

This article discusses virtual schools. It examines reasons for their growth, and relates criticism and support of virtual schools to the purposes of schooling. In particular, the notions of socialization, values, affective objectives and the future needs of communities are examined. This article discusses the measurement and importance of values and socialization in a school system where virtual schools are valued, and concludes that more attention must be given to these issues as this schooling mode matures. Virtual schools are a variant of distance education whereby students use online computers for some or all of their schooling. Russell (2004) suggests that they may be categorized in terms of the amount of face-to-face interaction, as the range of virtual schools now available includes the following: 1. Those offering some virtual classes at conventional schools. 2. “Out-of-school” models, where there is no designated school building and students never attend a face-to-face class. 3. Mixed-mode examples, where students are expected to work online from home or elsewhere, but attend some face-to-face sessions such as sport or social activities. Variation can also be seen in the experiences offered to students in the online component of their course. Some schools, such as the Virtual Schooling Service in Queensland, Australia (VSS 2003), rely principally on synchronous interaction in the timetabled classes of conventional schools. Other schools, such as Florida Virtual School in the United States (U.S.), use asynchronous methods to enable greater flexibility. The Florida Virtual School uses the motto of “Teaching Any Time, Any Place, Any Pace” (Johnson 2004). The experiences that students will receive within the online component of their virtual schools also vary. An examination of virtual school Web sites and reports, including the California Virtual School Report (2000), Virtual High School (Kozma, Zucker, Espinoza, McGee, Yarnell, Zalles, & Lewis, 2000) and Florida (Florida High School Evaluation, 2002) indicate a range of environments. These include Web pages, chat rooms, online discussion groups and e-mail. In addition, some schools retain predecessor technologies such as telephone, post and audio and videotapes—or combinations of technologies that seem appropriate. It is difficult, if not impossible, to compare student experiences where the technological provision is so disparate

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