How do you rate an online school? Is it based on curriculum? Accreditation? Customer service? While all those are important, one thing you will really want to consider is the type, amount, and level of teacher support. Today, homeschools and online schools can have different levels of teacher support from an independent study program, to a teacher led program.
In an independent study program, the student works on his/her own and may not have access to teachers. He/she may have assistance from a parent or a tutor, but other than that, they are mainly working on their own.
In a teacher assisted program, teachers are available to assist students. This level of assistance varies from program to program. Some programs offer live lectures or classes. Other programs may offer teacher assistance solely through email. There are programs where you may have a different teacher helping each time you need help. And then there is the question regarding teacher credentials. Did these teachers graduate college? Are they certified? Is this their first year teaching? These are important things to consider.
Online schools these days use many methods of communication including email, chat rooms, and whiteboards to communicate with students. Some of the better schools use skype, and other face-to-face methods of communication. Teacher guided lessons may be difficult in a self paced format, however, online schools are finding new ways to deliver much needed one-on-one interaction using new technology.
Schools providing increased interaction between students and teachers see a direct relationship between teacher help and student performance. “The more verbal and face-to-face the interaction, the better students feel they are learning”, according to Laura Porterman, online teacher for a private online school for the past 7 years. Laura says, “For the most part, the kids asking for help, tend to be the ones that perform better. Other students may just move on if they don’t understand a lesson, and they may never understand it or understand future lessons that build on it.” Online schools are really starting to understand this relationship and how adding student-teacher interaction can increase student performance. If you are looking for an online school, make sure you check into their level of support and the qualifications of their instructors. It could make all the difference in your child’s education.