Cal Poly’s School of Education is not jumping on the online education bandwagon any time soon. Instead, the school is teaching students to teach in a traditional classroom setting with face to face methods, rather than face to screen instruction.
And while online provides benefits for teaching, it doesn’t apply to the school’s goal of getting students hired in schools, assessment coordinator Amy Robbins said.
“Right now in the K-12 system, it’s mainly a face to face program,” Robbins said. “Our focus is to get our students in the K-12 schools more. We’re almost going opposite. We want their bodies to be out in schools more and not really online.”
The school of education focuses on preparing collegiate students to teach K-12. The students are heading out to teach elementary, middle and high schools. These schools are based on face to face contact, Robbins said.
Online education does offer the benefit of being accessible through a computer to students who are busy with family, work or can’t get to the classroom, Robbins said. But there is no face to face interaction, which is needed in the classroom.
“For people becoming teachers, there just should be a realization that technology and the online world are out there and that it is a way students may be learning things,” Robbins said. “Students may be able to go online and take a free class for fun, or what they’re interested in.”
The state of California gives the teacher credential program standards it must meet, Robbins said. A part of these standards is technology education, which includes how to use technology as a teaching and learning tool and how to troubleshoot basic problems.
And while using technology as a teaching and learning tool is a standard from the state, teaching an online education course is not a standard, Robbins said. It is not currently available or needed at the school of education for the future K-12 teachers.
The school of education administrators are talking about integrating a hybrid education course, taught both online and in the classroom, Robbins said. But details have not been discussed.
Online education should be used as a supplement to the traditional classroom setting, Virginia Peterson Elementary School in Paso Robles teacher Susan Young and Doralyn Henry, said.
Online education is not appropriate in elementary schools, Henry said.
“Online education is sufficient for practicing concepts in the elementary school, but not as a way of learning new concepts,” Henry said. “Online education works better if the skeleton of the learning has been made to stand, then the computer can add flesh to the strength of the curriculum context.”
Henry and Young both work at an elementary school where education is supplemented by the computerized Accelerated Reading Program. The program assists students in building comprehension skills. The program is installed into the school’s computers where students can sit down and take an accelerated reading test on the books they have read in class or as a homework assignment.
With 14 years of experience, Henry has found that children should use the internet as a tool to support the education, she said. The Accelerated Reading Program does just that.
“The Accelerated Reading Program does not teach them to read, but it provides practice,” Henry said.
The computer is not a good teacher for young children, but children should know how to operate computers and the internet, Henry said.
Using face to face instruction, plus the supplement of online education is more effective, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education.
The U.S. Department of Education reported on a meta-analysis comparing the effectiveness of online education and face to face instruction. The 2010 study found that the effectiveness is the same when each of the methods is taught alone, according to the report. However, hybrid instruction, a combination of online education and face to face contact, is more effective than just online education or face to face instruction.
If any educated adult is monitoring a child’s education, the student will succeed, Young said.
“If you do not have the support it would take, you will be adding to the education gap,” Young said.
There is a great push to teaching young students to use technology, liberal studies junior Catie Tompkins said.
“Teachers need to be able to adapt their instruction to meet each student’s skill level, disabilities and learning styles,” Tompkins said.
Tompkins is preparing for online education by learning how to use technology and how to integrate it into the classroom.
“I think the way education is changing is very positive,” Tompkins said. “With the budget cuts, teachers are looking for more ways to teach effectively and to use their resources.”
Since technology is growing so quickly, schools may be paperless in the future and be able to use technology to teach students, Tompkins said.
“I think the main change in the next 20 years will be the increased integration of technology in the classroom,” she said.
Megan Rodrigues contributed to this article.