The Pros and Cons of Online Learning for K-12

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Many parents first encountered online learning for K-12 students during the COVID-19 pandemic, but education had been trending in that direction beforehand. That said, whether remote learning was a good idea for young learners was the subject of debate. Advocates argued that online classes provide more flexibility to busy parents and students alike, while opponents thought that kids didn't need any more screen time than they were already getting. Both sides made plenty of other points, too, but neither was changing the other's mind.

We are Turning, and we've been specializing in providing learners of all ages and ability levels with engaging learning experiences since 2002. One of our latest projects is Dojo360, a learning engagement platform that leverages our e³ philosophy of equity, evidence, and engagement to deliver the traditional benefits of online instruction while removing its drawbacks from the equation. Here is a closer look at how our platform plays into the pros and cons of online learning K-12.

What Are the Pros of Online Learning for K-12?

Traditional classes take place at a brick-and-mortar school at set times designed for the needs of the many. Students spend an equal amount of time in English and mathematics even though many students are stronger in one than the other.

In contrast, Dojo360 combines self-paced assignments with live classes to give students and their families more control over how they learn. Self-paced assignments could include everything from educational videos to practice tests that allow students to focus on their unique needs. For instance, a strong reader who struggles with multiplication could spend twice as much time reviewing math. Live classes can then use what students learned from self-paced assignments to jump straight into collaborative work, skipping inefficient explanations of the basics.

  1. Personalization

    Everybody can learn, but how we learn varies on an individualized basis. Classroom instructors are often working with 20+ students at once, which can result in more homogenized instruction for all. Likewise, students often study subjects that don't interest them without the opportunity to discover something within them to engage and inspire.

    Our platform allows instructors to create personalized learning paths for every student. Visual learners might use infographics to help them understand the alliances that triggered World War I, while an aural learner might get more out of an educational podcast on the topic. Allowing students to choose what they study promotes engagement by making them active participants in their education instead of mere bystanders as well. It also helps students prepare for what they hope to do after school, whether that means college or joining the workforce.

  2. Real-Time Feedback

    Students in traditional classrooms need to wait for their teacher to grade a test to find out how well they understand the material, at which point their instructor is ready to move on to something else. This can prevent students from developing the foundational skills they need to tackle more advanced concepts.

    Dojo360 allows instructors to include inline quizzes and other assessments tools directly into lessons, ensuring that students grasp one topic before advancing to the next. Instructors also receive the results of these assessments on an intuitive dashboard, giving them the evidence they need to intervene as necessary.

What Are the Cons of Online Learning K-12?

Academics are important, but students go to school to learn how to interact with their peers as well. Opponents of online education argue that kids can't do this on a screen, leaving something out of their educational experience.

Dojo360 addresses this problem head-on through a suite of communication tools such as live group chat and virtual meeting spaces that facilitate the same kinds of collaboration and group work that would be seen in a traditional environment. Shyer students may even be more comfortable communicating online than they would be otherwise.

  1. Required Self-Discipline

    Giving students more control over their education also means that nobody's looking over their shoulder making sure they do the work. With social media and a variety of other distractions just a click away, opponents of online education see this as too much to ask of a kid.

    Our platform addresses this issue by making learning as engaging as possible. Instructors can incorporate live polls, videos, and images into lessons to promote engagement. Furthermore, gamification elements such as live leaderboards provide the same instant gratification as the video games that young learners might otherwise be playing. As a result, students often develop time management skills that can be applied in university and workplace settings.

  2. Lack of Challenge

    Since many online curricula consist of nothing more than pre-recorded lectures and videos, they have no way of challenging students who are performing above grade level. Live instructors can ask more advanced questions to keep learning stimulating for high-achievers.

    Dojo360 supports synchronous instruction, so instructors can challenge students just as they could in person. High-achievers can also enroll in more advanced courses without all of the bureaucracy that often accompanies gifted programs or Advanced Placement classes in traditional schools.

Making the Most of Online Learning

Many students choose to hide in the back, making it more difficult for a classroom instructor to monitor their progress. Meanwhile, everybody is sitting in the front row on Dojo360, promoting equity in the virtual classroom. Likewise, our platform meets or exceeds all WCAG 2.0 guidelines to ensure that even students who aren't confident in their technological skills receive a fantastic education. We won't deny that online K-12 education had its drawbacks in the past, but Dojo360's extensive features result in engaged learning made easy.

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