Thursday, February 23, 2012

Idaho Teacher Says Online Learning Is ‘Higher Level of Learning’

Rick Berrett, a history teacher at South Fremont High School, demonstrated how a blended online course can be high-quality and engaging during the Senate Education Committee hearing today. He made the demonstration via the Idaho Education Network.

Berrett has been a teacher for 30 years. He said online learning is “a higher level of learning” because it teachers not only the course content but also important skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, time management, how to collect and analyze data.

“There is collaboration within the school and outside the school,” Berrett said. “You learn effective communication skills.”

In addition, he said students who participate in online learning master skills they need to go on to postsecondary education, and “they learn skills that are very valuable in the workforce.”

Through the blended learning model he has created, “students have an equal opportunity to be successful,” he told the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. He can individualize lessons for students who struggle as well as for students who excel.

“It is challenging, it’s innovative, and basically the sky is the limit,” Berrett said of his online learning model.

Right now, about 20 percent of the students in his school take this form of learning. “The only thing that is holding us back is computer access. Otherwise, we’d like to do it for all of the U.S. History students.”

South Fremont High School has submitted a letter of interest to participate in the first one-third of high schools that receive laptop devices for all students in Fall 2013. The state will complete a one-to-one ratio of students and staff to devices in every high school by 2015.

~ Melissa M.

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