What Can Colleges Learn from Online K-12 Schools?

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

K-12 school systems, such as California Virtual Academies (or CAVA), are providing completely online programs. Obviously, colleges are very different from K-12 schools, but are there lessons to be learned from the school model? At a time when budgets are being slashed, colleges are forced to look closely at their online programs as a possible means to reduce instructional costs. If existing programs aren’t as effective as they ought to be, colleges may want to examine K-12 models for elements that could be adapted to college programs.

In this article, I provide resources and links to information about CAVA and how California public schools are approaching completely online learning. After reviewing the information and, perhaps, conducting your own research, please join the discussion on the question, What can colleges learn from online K-12 school systems such as CAVA? To post a comment, click on the title of this article. This will take you to a page that displays the article, the ongoing discussion, and a box to compose your comment. Alternately email your comment to me at jamess@hawaii.edu, and I’ll post it for you.

The California Virtual Academies

The California Virtual Academies is a completely online K-12 charter public school system. CAVA is fully-accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools (ACS) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). In place of an actual campus, the State loans students a complete computer system and textbooks, and pays for broadband connection. “There are no buildings to heat or maintain so costs per student are low. Kids are assigned a teacher and software links them to their class and curriculum. There is also daily attendance and homework.”

According to the general FAQs, “The K-8 program is self-paced and flexible within the parameters specified by state law. The high school program is a combination of self-paced work and scheduled lessons and activities.”

Audio excerpts of Len Ramirez, KPIX reporter, from the video:

Click here for the video.

(Sources: Len Ramirez, KPIX reporter, “Virtual High School” [CBS News 4.7.09] and “More Calif. Kids Schooled at ‘Virtual Academy’” [CBS5  3.9.09]; the California Virtual Academies site)

One Response

  1. While technology certainly has its place in school, the idea of a K-12 school or college going completely online presents some issues. There are definite positives: it could save students and taxpayers a lot of money, and technology would be integrated into every subject so students would become more technologically adept. However, as a foreign language teacher, I recognize that certain subjects and situations require face to face interaction. Facilitating spoken conversation online in a foreign language, even with the use of video technology sites, would prove to be more difficult than an actual face-to-face conversation, not to mention the uncanny ability of technology to quit working properly when you need it most. In my opinion, schools need to have balance between traditional and online courses.

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