The last article raised our suspicions about the composition of iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, and its’ funding for the article presented. Online learning company logos plastered over the page make one suspicious as to if this was an un-biased study. Researching the iNACOL group, the Board of Directors is made up people of various sectors of online education. About half of the people are involved with a for-profit online education company. There are also several people that are involved in the non-profit sector, such as a professor, directors of a think-tank, and a school superintendent. Upon further investigation of the site, the people who help run some of their outreach programs come from all sorts of backgrounds, from consultants to genuine, non-profit online schools.
We decided to turn our focus to academic journal research to see how the claims were backed up. While research is plentiful for higher education socialization, the socialization of K-12 students is still emerging. An initial search landed on an article by Sorenson. While not an in-depth, longitudinal quantitative study, it gives a brief overview of parental attitudes towards online learning, with a particular focus on socialization of their children. The overwhelming majority of parents were pleased with the education their children were receiving. Socially, one of the key positive aspects they cited was lack of bullying in the online environment. They perceived it as a better environment for their child and relieved some of the family stress that bullying can involve. They also mentioned about the better communication between parent, student, and teacher which allowed the students to have personal input in areas of responsibility and independence.
Conversely, there was expressed concern regarding extrinsic socialization. Although most parents reported that their child was intrinsically happier, they were overwhelmingly concerned about deficiencies in face to face interactions with other children. Children may interact with each other online in discussion boards and collaborative projects, this was no substitute for interacting with people face to face.
Overall results of the survey find that the biggest concern parents have is keeping their child motivated and up to date. When queried about particular drawbacks, the biggest response was none/nothing. Lack of socialization was second. So socialization is a problem, but parents report that is a minor drawback and that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Sorensen, C. (2012). Learning online at the K-12 level: a parent/guardian perspective. International Journal of Instructional Media, 39(4), 297+. Retrieved from http://0-go.galegroup.com.wncln.wncln.org/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA311499606&v=2.1&u=boon41269&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w