History and Growth of Distance Learning

For some, the thought of taking an online class is scary -- regardless of age. It is the newest development in distance education that began in the mid-1990s with the spread of the internet and the World Wide Web. Distance learning began as early as the mid-19th century while developing the United States Postal Service. The notion of reliable, long-distance correspondence led to the growth and operation of what were called commercial ‘correspondence colleges', where instructional letters would be distributed through the postal service between students and professors.

According to a 2015 report from the International Association for K–12 Online Learning, more than 1.3 million students participate in cyber education courses at the high school level. As of 2013-2014, 29 states have full-time, statewide online schools…with more in progress.

Since the beginning of March 2020, United States traditional brick and mortar schools closed due to the Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic – in hopes to decrease the spread of the virus. Over the years, we loved brick and mortar schools because it provides students a traditional community environment with ample social opportunities. Students also get regular face-to-face contact with teachers and school staff, making it easier to get help outside of class. Students also more easily learn about extracurricular sports and academic opportunities attending a physical school. As a result of COVID-19 school closures, educators and students must enter the cyber classroom.

Researchers are still analyzing the effectiveness of cyber classrooms. Therefore, MileStone Academy educators continuously research the innovation, tools, and advantages and disadvantages of cyber classrooms.

Advantages of Cyber Classrooms

Depending on the size of the school and its classroom sizes, virtual education can be very cost effective. It also opens a wide variety of options for the student, teacher and parent. For instance, rather than hiring school-specific teachers, a teacher may supply instruction to students taking the same class in multiple districts. Students also have greater access to advanced placement classes. Additionally, students who struggle in the traditional classroom due to the unavoidable and unpredictable disturbances, usually excel in cyber classrooms. Moreover, of the online high schools require their teachers to be accessible 24 hours a day. This is a advantage facility for the online high school students. They do not have to keep their doubts pending till the end of the week or the month due to lack of the teacher’s availability. With such a robust faculty support, the students get to experience wholesome learning.

Disadvantages of Cyber Classrooms

While there is an abundance of reasons why cyber classrooms are effective, we must discuss the disadvantages in comparison to the traditional classroom. For outgoing students, it is difficult to readjust to the lack of social interaction during our nations quarantine and self-isolation. Also, depending on the school’s budget, the students loose face time with their instructors. On average, teachers at minimum, interact with students through email and/or virtual chat. Even though teachers are supposed to be accessible 24 hours a day, students must patiently wait for an electronic response versus’ raising their hand in the classroom or staying after to ask the teacher for extra help.

Furthermore, cyber student progress and assessment is not as effective as those conducted by a teacher in a classroom setting. A teacher can express multiple assessments such as observational notes, group assessments, individual assessments, portfolios, written work, etc. In cyber school, there is only really one way to assess a student — by the work they submit online. Of course, students still have access to books and notes; however, a complete viewpoint of the student’s overall progress are not very accurate.

Admittedly, trying to do school assignments on the computer, can easily be distracting by countless things such as: house duties, cell phones, online games and media sites and so much more. The traditional school environment lessens the distractions

Staying Focused

How can students stay focused while taking and studying for an online class? Here are six pointers to help students stay engaged in cyber learning:

  • Be positive. Do not be afraid. Schools supply easily accessible student technical help or support for any questions or troubleshooting. Blooming through a change is tough but possible with a cheerful outlook. Positivity about online learning is the best gift you can give yourself. Everything you learn, whether it is your most or least favorite subject, will help you grow as a person.
  • Get organized. A tidy learning space to do schoolwork will put you ahead of the game. Create or rename electronic folders for each class on your computer and in your email program. If your virtual school provides an online planner, use it to schedule your personal appointments and create your “to do” list, with items ranked in order of urgency.
  • Establish a dedicated study area. Do not double your living room, kitchen or dining room table as a classroom. Avoid common household distractions by setting up a quiet workspace. An established work area is a big step in getting and staying focused for an online class.
  • Eliminate distractions. Turn off TVs and radios. Make sure your class work is the only item pulled up on your web browser. That is right, no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or YouTube! Just your online class work!
  • Find and use your resources. Of course, students have textbooks, the library, online instructional tools, and trusted websites. But do not forget the many human resources like parents, siblings, neighbors, tutors, teachers, school counselors, and principals are great sources of information. A good rule of thumb is if you have been looking for an answer for more than five minutes, reach out for help!
  • Reward yourself. Rewarding yourself is a MileStone Academy favorite. Cyber classes are a real chore, so break up your study session to avoid burn out. For instance, you might study for 30 minutes, then take a five-minute Twitter break. Or study for an hour and reward yourself with a short walk around your neighborhood or quick phone call to a close friend.

Cyber classes are challenging, which is why it is important students take the necessary measures to ensure you stay disciplined and motivated while taking them. Following the above tips will help students get the most out of their education. Lastly, young students become independent learners and gain valuable time-management skills that will serve them well, in secondary education, and in the workforce!

COVID-19 Update

MileStone Academy physical location will remain closed for the rest of the school year due to COVID-19. As a result, we have switched to live online one-to-one teaching.

We are still enrolling new students for full time, part time, summer, fall, and tutoring. Complete the request information form and we will schedule a virtual introduction to MileStone Academy.

Learn more about MileStone’s plan of action and messages about COVID-19. Click Here.

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