With the recent efforts by the Ohio Department of Education to measure attendance and make funding decisions related to eschools using a hours "logged on" rule, it's clear that the department has a ways to go in learning about how online education actually transpires in 2017. It's also clear that they haven't even reached a basic understanding of how a computer and internet connection are used as teaching tools that support learning both online and off.

Their daily 5-hour logged on rule is reckless and works to undermine over a decade of progress in K-12 online education for Ohio. It's been months and the department still has yet to justify this measure with any logical reasoning. We can only assume that they figured out how many hours traditional school students spend in buildings each day and decided it would be a good idea to lazily apply the same measure to a completely different format school and student population. It's an appalling display of incompetence and terribly destructive as it labels students who are succeeding with online education as truant when there's nothing farther from the truth.

But I guess we shouldn't be surprised. ODE's history of misrepresenting success at eschools is well documented... especially with the graduation rate measurements that not only fail to report on students that eschools help to graduate but actually penalize these schools for enrolling students after they've fallen behind elsewhere. And that's not all... There's also the irony of the statistical reward that those previous schools get for failing these kids in the first place when they leave and decide to attend an eschool....But I digress. You can see how the graduation rate rewards and penalizes the wrong schools for the wrong reasons in this short video.

As an ECOT parent and someone with a healthy amount of professional background in online education, I find it quite shocking that a state agency whose job it is to deeply understand learning while keeping our schools and students prepared for and pursuing the future could be so uneducated on the topic of online education.

Anyways, I reached out to ECOT to learn more about their thoughts on the learning that happens away from the computer. Here's what they said.

iNACOL (International Association for k-12 Online Learning) has stated that it is a “myth” that all online learning occurs on the computer.

At ECOT, we also believe this is true. 

Effective e learning is a result of educational experiences that are activated when students engage with content and our teachers online, but endure for our students through opportunities we provide students outside of the computer.

We provide students with both asynchronous (engaging online lessons and resources) and synchronous activities such as live class sessions and phone calls with our highly qualified teachers. 

But our students spend important time off of the computer too…

  • In language arts class, students may be reading a novel from the library for independent reading or for class assignments and journaling their thoughts and ideas

  • In science class, students may be asked to make observations from their environment

  • In social studies students may be asked to make a map of their neighborhood

  • In math class, students may be flipping a coin and graphing their results to explore the concept of probability

  • In physical education, students learn techniques for exercise and log their physical activity at home

  • Students have opportunities to complete artwork and digital photography as part of their electives coursework

  • We also offer many field trips through which students can broaden their perspective through activities and opportunities offered around the state

  • Students participate in clubs such as Theatre and Photography club to experience enriching experiences outside their class schedule

The list is endless as are the opportunities to learn.

Over the last 5 years, what my family has experienced at ECOT has been amazing online and offline learning experiences. Not only do the teachers and staff at ECOT work hard to propel the offline learning components of daily classwork and extra curricular activities but they are always pioneering to innovate the online side as well. As an example, you can learn more about an upcoming interactive and live-streamed learning event that ECOT is delivering from Washington DC by clicking here

ECOT students are benefitting from the flexible approach and timing of live-taught online classes paired with the direct support of their teachers, offline work and extra-curricular activities. My ECOT student loves learning and is thriving on all state testing measures. She is not "logged on" for 5 hours every day and if she was, she'd probably be failing. It's simply not healthy, productive or educationally justified. We can only hope that someday soon... the ODE will get out of their cubicles, take off their old school thinking caps and come learn with us both online and offline at the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

ECOT is currently involved in a legal action with the Ohio Department of Education. The department is attempting to limit school choice by ripping funding away from ECOT and other eschools based on selective and retroactive enforcement of absurd attendance rules. 

We need your help. Please Take Action Now to support school choice and ECOT in Ohio.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by authors and interviewees on ECOT PALS blogs are the author's and interviewees alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) or any other individual or group. Would you like your opinion or story to be published on the ECOT PALS blog? Please contact us to inquire.

Read More ECOT PALS Stories