The Nation’s Largest School District Is Making Virtual School a Permanent Option – Slashdot

The Nation’s Largest School District Is Making Virtual School a Permanent Option – Slashdot

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from the product-of-the-pandemic dept.

New York City, home to more than a million students in its school system, is the biggest school district in the U.S. — and now allows any student to enroll virtually in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Time reports: Dubbed Virtual Innovators Academy, there are 17 teachers for about 200 students enrolled in the 2023-2024 school year for sophomore and freshman years. Each year, another grade level will be added, and the school’s funding comes from the city and state, just like other public schools. Students meet in-person for required state exams and for monthly social gatherings like arcade games at Dave & Busters or seeing a Broadway show. But many of the most popular extracurriculars are done from home, says Virtual Innovators Academy principal Terri Grey, like esports and flying drones. […]

And it isn’t just in New York: school districts in Utah, Georgia, California, and elsewhere have also launched permanent virtual schools. Concerns remain about the effectiveness of virtual school. Critics worry about the lack of in-person social interaction during crucial developmental years, and about whether teachers can educate as effectively through a screen. But administrators behind the nation’s burgeoning virtual schools say they have studied what works and what doesn’t from remote-schooling during the pandemic when setting up these communities. Every morning, students at Virtual Innovators Academy meet in small groups with a teacher advisor to talk about how they’re doing and give them time to wake up in the morning and connect with other classmates. There’s less emphasis on multiple choice tests, which proved harder to administer online, and more emphasis on research projects.

“Too many people judge virtual instruction as if it were the emergency roadside online instruction that happened as a result of the pandemic,” says Anthony Godfrey, who helps oversee the K-12 Jordan Virtual Learning Academy in Utah. “This is something very different. This is a carefully thought out, very intentional way of providing a unique and effective means of instruction.” […] But for all the proponents of virtual schooling, there are critics who worry about what’s being lost behind the computer screen. […] Unstructured, spontaneous conversations are often the most memorable parts of school, he argues; students might work side-by-side, help each other with homework, and also socialize in between classes. In virtual school, “How do you create space for bumping into somebody in the hall?” [wonders Nathan Holbert, a researcher at Teachers College, Columbia University, who studies virtual learning]. “I don’t know that you can.”

Quantum Mechanics is God’s version of “Trust me.”


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