I definitely recommend reading a brand-new blog called “One Room Schoolhouse” on what it’s actually like to “teach” at an on-line “school”.
It’s much worse than I thought.
One comment pointed out that one of the founders of K12, one of the main vendors of online “education” is the well-known convicted financial fraudster, Michael Milken.
A few excerpts:
It is not hard to look at cyber schools and see the weak spot, we have no idea if the student enrolled with us is the actual person who is doing the work. I think the department of education would also be able to see this and they would not approve our charter. So the school’s founders put the phone quiz into the charter to ensure the approval. And our administration makes us do as many as we can possibly do, even if it interferes with actual education. But they don’t want us to actually give any failures because that would mean more work for them. And if we have too many, it might show the department of education that our school doesn’t work.
The principals put pressure on us to not give any phone quiz failures. Just like with cheating is seems as if those teachers who consistently give students failures are given more and more work by the principals. Once a principal even told all of the teachers that we were not supposed to give any student a failure. If they couldn’t answer the questions we were to log it as a tutoring phone call. This leaves one to wonder, if we are not to fail anyone what is the purpose of the call?
Now when I grade I don’t even have to look things up, I know that this student is using Yahoo Answer, that that student paraphrased wikipedia, and the third is using some dark site which I haven’t found yet but I’ve seen his wrong answer a hundred times before, character for character, down to the bad punctuation. My estimation of how many are cheating has grown, from 40% to 60% to 80% to 100%. At 95% I told myself, “Ok, the majority of your students are cheating and there is nothing you can do about it, but you have this core group of students who are really smart and enthusiastic about learning, and don’t cheat because they don’t need to. And you know they are learning because you speak to them every week and they understand the material. Focus on those students.” But last year I caught several of these smartest students in the school cheating. It broke my heart. I know that they only did it because they were really busy with extracurricular activities, they feel like they know the material well enough anyway, and they consider the tests to be just busy work for them. But if they really knew the material as well as they thought they did they wouldn’t have needed to cheat. My school is hurting even the very best of its students.