The future of public schools: No school building at all?

More cyber schools to come online next fall

When I was your age, I walked 10 miles to school, rain or shine, in blizzards and through floods.

It’s a familiar refrain, and one that students in Pennsylvania might soon be hearing more often from their elders. In that state, four new schools will run as cyber schools starting in 2012, meaning students will not have to brave the elements to get an education.

With cyber schools, instruction happens online. The schools usually give all students a computer and any other necessary pieces of computer equipment. Cyber schools in Pennsylvania do not replace all classroom staples, as students still receive textbooks. In fact, the cyber schools seek to replicate everything that comes with traditional schools, including teachers monitoring student attendance and socializing opportunities. Of course all of this just happens online.

“Students take real-time classes via the internet with certified teachers, as well as lessons that are designed to move at the student’s own pace,” according to the website for The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. PA Cyber is one of more than 15 cyber schools in the state.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education runs these cyber schools, so local tax dollars pay for everything.

“Regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location, all students deserve an environment that is conducive for their academic growth,” Ron Tomalis, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education, said.

Not only can cyber schools serve students across a wider geographic area, but “each student will receive a great deal of personal attention from teachers, have more extensive course offerings than traditional schools, and learn in a safe environment,” according to PA Cyber.

Last year, 32,332 students attended cyber schools in Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said.

Some of the potential downsides to these types of schools include not having in-house tech support and not having friends around during the day.

Would you send your child to a cyber school? How would you assume classroom control of technology when the classroom is your own home?

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.