Monday, December 11, 2006

Black Conservatives Online by Akindele Akinyemi

Online schools are becoming a more popular phenomenon in the field of education today. We are beginning to see online programs not just in a few states but nationwide.

Where does charter schools come into play in this fast moving phenomenon?

From an educator's standpoint, virtual schools and distance learning is one of the top technology issues many employers are focused on.

While some universities offer distance learning to their students many are beginning to enroll at programs with an online component. They are very popular because people can work on their entire educational program from home.

So who is hating? Of course, the old heads who would still want you to go to a traditional university setting and spend 4-5 years of your life getting a degree when you can accomplish this in 15 months or less at an institution that offers fast track instruction.

Gone are the days of where people are pointing fingers at those who go to these fast track institutions. They are now taking business away from traditional university settings and of course the university unions that represent the professors on campus are going to talk bad about these fast track institutions.

It is the same debate that is going on with charters vs traditional schools.

Specialized online charter schools should partner with fast track educational institutions to build a partnership with each other. I do not see this happening in our community and we need to begin doing this. The purpose of an online high charter school partnering with a fast track online institution is to help ease the transition from one institution to another.

Fast track educational institutions should also be an educational partner in our quest for urban regional power in this region. As classrooms evolve in specialized charters we can greatly improve education within an educational empowerment zone for less than one-fourth of present costs. Can you imagine students seeing and speaking to each other, but not touching each other? This avoids problems. The need to read to learn will be mostly eliminated. Social and exercise needs for students can be provided elsewhere. Guest students from other nations can be included.

Black conservatives in the educational choice movement can stop trying to beg for the crumbs that fall from the table and begin implementing some of these innovations within the charter high school.

Thomas Albright wrote an article I felt that was inspiring. He mentions the future direction of how classroom instruction should be taught.

For instance, let us say we opened up a specialized charter school that focused on scientific research. One or more students may have a video camera on top of a monitor/transmission set for viewing. Students will be able to see themselves in an OLV Classroom with other students. The top of the screen will generally have three inset images. One will be the full classroom -- likely no more than 12. A second may be an image of a participating student. A third will be either the image of an outline instruction for the class or one of an instructor. Thus, an interactive real-time method of study will be available via the Internet. A master website will be assigned to the school administrator for that school. Individual class websites will be subsets under the control of the master web.

Albright also mentions how the instructional format may use a 3-4 part outline method of instruction. The separation of thoughts for learning will replace the need for fathoming and translating sentence structure. The left section of the links will outline elements such as situations, conditions, and/or causes. The center part of the links will outline procedures, processes, events, and/or happenings. The right part of the links will outline consequences, results, continuations, and/or effects. The spatial separation, together with the outline words, will enhance intellectual intake and memory retention.

The sets of links may progress from a summary presentation down to successive levels of detail, start with the detailed as desired, or as appropriate for individual classes.

The data gathering, collecting, and testing in the Video Accumulated Classroom may use a Classroom Listening And Scoring System. This system may score student answers to True/False and multiple choice questions, as well as give periodic, on cue signals to indicate awareness. In addition, narrative inputs may be required within a prescribed time period to suggest sole participation. Student inputs may use a kneepad signaler or a keyboard. A local counselor at large will be available to visit problem locations, somewhat similar to truant officers who monitor attendance.

The classroom may use an automated, video CD that presents visual and audible instructional material; may use an instructor with visual aids; may use an instructor alone; actual laboratory experiments; or mixtures of them. The website director shall have the option of choosing between views of the total group, the group with instructor, instructor only, experiments, or individual students for transmission to the individual monitors. Additionally; split views of two participating images, to show interaction, may be selected by the director. The instructor shall have an illustrative video aid that may be remindful of the long-ago used slate. The instructor shall have the capability to negate any transmission by an unruly student.

Lastly, he states how an alternate way of instruction may use one of the better students in the class questions such that the class can teach itself. The usual manner of instruction is so incremental and gradual that the best student may be a better instructor than many career instructors.

This is what Black conservatives should be talking about when we discuss the transformation process in charter schools through designing an educational empowerment zone. The only way we are going to build urban regional power is to partner with schools with an online component. Online schools are the future so we need to support online programs now.

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