If you are new to the idea of online education, you may wonder, “Does online education work?”
Under the system of education that most of us grew up with, our school started promptly with a bell ring and ended just as promptly with the afternoon bell. In between bells, we sat dutifully at our desks, listening attentively to the teacher, taking copious notes and engaging in thoughtful discussion.
Or at least that’s what we want to remember.
More likely, the teacher spent much of the day answering endless random and trivial questions from students whose minds were wandering somewhere between the moon and New York City. As soon as the classroom made some progress, a recess bell would ring, and it would soon be time to move to a different subject and hope for better results.
Did the old paradigm work? Of course it did, with varying degrees of results. Is the old system the best? That’s probably an individual matter with far too many variables to answer with a simple yes or no.
Online education is newish, but not unproven
Online education is the child of distance learning, which has been in existence for about as long as the Pony Express. For decades, people interested in additional learning were able to enroll in distance education and receive degrees, certificates, or just enhanced knowledge. With the advent of the internet, students were able to log in for anywhere, anytime learning. Online education was born.
Over the years, online education has been studied time and time again. The U.S. Department of Education said that more than a thousand studies were conducted between 1996 and 2008. From the department’s analysis of the studies, they found that “on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.” Furthermore, they found that when online education was combined with elements of “face-to-face” instruction, the results were even better.
Our curriculum and approach at the Darby Academy is designed to combine face-to-face and online for the best education your child can receive.
Why we think online education works
Here are some of the reasons we think that online education works for your 3rd – 12th grade child.
We work for mastery of subject material
Imagine what would happen if your student had to stay after class to master the day’s lesson before the teacher would allow them to attend tomorrow’s class? It would certainly bring some frustration, but it would also avoid the very real danger of the child getting so far behind in skills that he or she gave up in despair. In a classroom setting, it is virtually impossible for the teacher to wait for every student to master the subject before moving on. Therefore, the teacher teaches to the middle. The students on the front end wait impatiently for more challenging material. The students on the back end get left behind. A lot of time is wasted for a lot of students.
In our program at John Nelson Darby, every student has to achieve a 90% passing grade on daily lessons to move to the next lesson. This trains the child to listen and learn closely so that they will not be delayed at the end. It also trains a child to go back and investigate a matter that they missed on the daily lesson. We are not concerned that a child who is having to retake the lesson will simply skim the lesson to find the correct answer. After all, the correct answer is what we want them to know! Chances are, having to go back a second (or third) time, the child is going to remember the answer.
And, because our teachers know how many times a student has taken a daily assignment, the teacher is able to see which students are struggling and may need some guidance in the material.
Our program has both flexibility and deadlines to keep your child on track
The classroom approach has, by necessity, a rigid schedule. In a traditional setting, a school day begins at 8:30 and ends at 3:00. During that day certain time is set for math, reading, history, science, and other courses. Each course must start and stop on schedule. In an online setting, a student may whiz through subject matter they are familiar with and spend much more time on the subject matter they struggle with. In online education, there is no bell that rings that causes the child to have to stop in the middle of a thought and move to the next subject.
But in some online education, this can cause a child to get very behind. Many online students have found themselves doing coursework all summer long because they didn’t keep up. At JND we have weekly coursework deadlines but within the week the student’s schedule is very flexible. If they want to do math on Monday and science on Tuesday, devoting an entire day to the week’s work, they can do so. If they prefer a more traditional method of one class in each subject daily, they can do that. We only require that the student attends a scheduled meeting with the teacher and his/her peers on a weekly basis, as well as a scheduled online chapel service.
Our program develops individual initiative
In classroom education, it doesn’t make much difference if the student finishes work ahead of time, he or she is still going to be in school until 3:00 PM on Friday. At the Darby Academy, however, a student can work ahead and have Friday off. A student with initiative can finish their coursework by lunchtime each day, having the rest of the day for projects around the home, work, or just plain fun.
In fact, we believe that your child should be able to do their work in about 20 hours each week. That’s 4-5 hours per day. We do not want school work to be a full-time job for your child. In order for a child to grow in wisdom and stature, he or she needs hobbies, crafts, personal projects, chores, sports, music, and reading for pleasure. We encourage a child to have a well-rounded life, and we believe our program allows the initiative of the child to finish school work so that he or she can do the things they really want to do. In fact, those things the child wants to do often turn into a lucrative career later in life.
Online education removes the wasted time of classroom education
Most classroom-based schools have around seven hours per day at school, with a lot of pressure to extend these hours. Of this seven hours, the actual in-class time for a high school student is 270 minutes (45 minutes per class, six classes). This means that at least 2.5 hours is lost in transitions, lunch, etc. Of the 270 minutes, how much time is spent in classroom management, announcements, discipline, the question of one student that consumes the time of all students, etc? Furthermore, how much time is spent preparing for and taking state-mandated testing that is not required in the JND curriculum? Do you want your student burdened with a 7-8 hour day, mostly wasted? Wouldn’t that time be better spent with family, hobbies, church, chores, work, or recreation?
Give it a try
If you’re ready to give online education a try, we are ready to talk with you. Fill out the form below or call us toll-free, 844-321-4202. When you call, you will leave a message and we will return your call within 24 hours.