The New York Times looks at high school online courses.

[A]round the country skeptics say online courses are a stealthy way to cut corners… The fastest growth has been in makeup courses for students who failed a regular class. Advocates say the courses let students who were bored or left behind learn at their own pace.

But even some proponents of online classes are dubious about makeup courses, also known as credit recovery — or, derisively, click-click credits — which high schools, especially those in high-poverty districts, use to increase graduation rates and avoid federal sanctions.

“I think many people see online courses as being a way of being able to remove a pain point, and that is, how are they going to increase their graduation rate?” said Liz Pape, president of the Virtual High School Global Consortium. If credit recovery were working, she said, the need for remedial classes in college would be declining — but the opposite is true.

The article points out what everyone has noticed about online college courses – Lots of people cheat their way through them. You can’t determine who’s actually taking the course. And it’s the rare air traffic controller (UD‘s name for faculty who teach online courses) with the time or inclination to catch plagiarism (the NYT article features an online student copying material from the web, something that many online students, high school as well as college, apparently do).

From click-click credits in high school to click-thru u — what a way to go.

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Update:

“The problem with distance learning is that we know we are trying to teach, but we don’t know if they are trying to learn,” said sociology Professor Allen Martin of the University of Texas-Tyler, an outspoken critic of online education.

The dropout rate is enormous, and there is an enormous amount of cheating that goes on. It just doesn’t work very well.”

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One Response to “Click-Click Credits on your way to Click-Thru U”

  1. John Murray Says:

    A few years ago student described to me the cheating possibilities in online courses (he had written an essay exam for his girlfriend–for the ethics part of an intro philosophy course). I mentioned this potential problem at a faculty meeting. Oh no, said a colleague, a voracious producer of them, if I were concerned about cheating, the local rules would let me give the exams on campus in a face-to-face setting.

    I replied: I’m not worried about _my_ students cheating–I’m worried about so many students happily cheating away in _your_ online classes that none will want to take my classes.

    Our president recently announced a new initiative to move even more classes from classrooms to the internet. If I ever taught an online course, I would FORCE my students to read Dilbert daily in order to make sense of such nonsense.

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