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
When her mother became very ill, everything seemed to change for high school freshman, Sara. Up against odds that many couldn’t possibly imagine, she found acceptance, support and a new hope for her future at ECOT. View Post -->
Looking at the crushing human and taxpayer consequences of bullying, those serious about the future of public education need to reconsider their anti-school-choice actions and start to measure what really matters. View Post ->
After a lengthy two-year legal battle, hundreds of hours of testimony, thousands of pages of court documents, and scouring of numerous legal statutes, it all boiled down to the Ohio Department of Education attorney Doug Cole focusing on what he considered to be “absurd. View Post->
Our students, teachers, and staff are the victims of our government and professional groups design to shut ECOT down. OEA, AFT, and ODE relentlessly campaigned against ECOT through lobbying, donations to political campaigns, and manipulation of procedures and policy. View Post->
This is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, in that this member of the state legislature refuses to even hear the grievances brought forth by concerned parents, staff, alumni and current students. View Post->
The biggest challenge of mobility is that each student's scenario is entirely unique. For some, they need a right place right time solution to finish out their K-12 journey. For other students, mobility challenges define their entire public school experience. View Post->
When what is in the best interest of children (allowing them to finish their school year) loses to politics and money, it is a disgrace that needs to be shouted nationwide!. View Post ->
It is most certainly the job of regulators to make allowances and/or exceptions whenever needed. Not as to be an ever present excuse, but rather an aid in the efforts of upholding an education system that supports all. View Post->
I’m the face behind the screen. The face to The Ohio Department of Education that seems to not exist. Or maybe I am only a dollar sign. I’m the face that believes in school choice. I’m the face that believes in the right choice. But most importantly, I am one of the many faces of ECOT. View Post->
From that day forward, I knew why I worked at ECOT. I knew I had the heart, patience, and beliefs to help children like Christina and parents like Mrs. White. I knew my work, my school, meant this little girl would be safe and unafraid. That she would never again see the spit of her classmates on her sleeve…or in her face. View Post->
Pushing legislation, rules and actions that may effectively displace 10's of thousands of our state's children, teachers and education administrators should not be handled so carelessly. These efforts are such a large threat to our families, our state economy, our right to choose and all of Ohio's future. We're fired up too and rightfully so.View Post->
What the Senator has shown in his words and actions is that he is playing politics with public education. He seems squarely focused on intentional and blind protectionism of the traditional institutional system at any cost or consequence to opportunity for Ohio's students. View Post ->
Abigail had to look beyond the traditional public school system to find a way to stay close to her newborn, but had no idea how her experience at ECOT would change her perspective and impact her and her new baby's life - View Post ->
There is little doubt that ECOT is changing the paradigm of public education... and it's not by blindly giving students iPads or a way for students to simply click their way to a diploma. ECOT teachers are harnessing the efficiency that technology provides while leveraging the power of teamwork to meet the unique learning needs of their students. View Post ->
After teaching English at a brick-and-mortar high school for 18 years, Maryalice Leister has been fearlessly pursuing educational technology to create more meaningful connections with her students. View Post ->
From isolation to recommended medication, the system was failing an energetic 2nd grader named Dax. Jane turned to ECOT to find a schooling solution that works for him. View Post -->
Constantly chasing new standards and screwing around with questionable measures while repeatedly attempting to march our diverse and fragile system towards different finish line grades is getting us nowhere. View Post ->
"Over the past 16 years, ECOT has fulfilled its responsibilities to my family by providing my children with a high-quality curriculum, exceedingly dedicated teachers and a well rounded, solid education. Please respect my decision to choose the education I deem best suited for my family" View Post ->
As a current ECOT Special Needs teacher, I have seen firsthand the positive effect that online school can have on a student. It is true that online learning is not for every student, but it absolutely is the right choice for many students. Not only is it the right choice, but it is oftentimes the last and only choice for students. View Post ->
In response to a recent fury of misinformation, outright lies and uninformed opinion being spread by those who wish to defund and destroy school choice in Ohio, ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) advocates have had enough and are starting to speak out. View Post->
With new capabilities in technology, new socioeconomic challenges and new science behind how people learn and grow... major changes to a K-12 format that is so long in the tooth should be expected and embraced. View Post ->