Sunnyside’s online classes for dropouts

by David Safier

Dropouts getting their high school diplomas by taking online classes? Sunnyside School District is trying it out, with help from Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

The District will loan a laptop computer to students who take the online courses and, it sounds like, provide internet access at their homes if they don't have it. Students can take the courses at home with online access to teachers, or they can do the coursework in a classroom setting. The cost would be minimal to the District and bring in about $3,000 per student from the state.

The usual questions arise about the effectiveness of online education, but there's a difference here. If these are people who have already given up on their high school educations and can be brought back using an alternative technique, even if the online education is less effective than the students learning in the classroom, it's more valuable than the alternative, which is no education at all and the lack of a high school diploma, which can be a crippling disadvantage in the job market. But where will students who gave up on the classroom find the motivation to work without supervision? Will the students actually do the work themselves, or will they find others to do it for them? Sunnyside needs a method of checking up on the students to see if they've picked up the skills and information their course work indicates.

This is worth watching. No question, online education is a part of our futures, and so long as it's not being pushed by snakeoil salespeople who put profits over the good of the students, it's worth experimenting with to see what works and what doesn't.

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