Trying to save costs is part of a business. No matter the business, saving money, so that money can be spent in other key areas, is the way the world turns. For teachers, unfortunately, it usually means that something gets cut. We've already seen other countries try to use telepresence robots to cut back costs, and now here in the United States it seems that children are being enrolled in virtual classrooms at a pretty staggering rate.
In the Miami-Dade Public School district, 7,000 students are currently enrolled in a virtual classroom, or e-learning lab. These students take core classes, like Math or English, on a computer, instead of learning the material from a teacher standing in front of them, or interacting with them personally. Instead, a "facilitator" walks around, helping give technical advice about the computers, or answer generalized questions when they can. The main job of the facilitator seems to be just to make sure the kids aren't screwing around, and using the computers for their intended use.
The reason behind this shift in learning methodology has a lot to do with Florida's Class Side Reduction amendment, which was passed in 2002. The amendment means that there's not to be more than 25 students in a core subject classroom. The amendment is focused on a classroom, so sticking more children in a e-learning center seems to be perfectly acceptable.
Interestingly enough, there seems to be a small amount of students that were given the option of taking the virtual class, instead of being put into an actual classroom with a teacher. The majority of the students were automatically enrolled, though, with no option given. Teachers haven't been completely phased out, though. If a student has a question regarding something based on the material, they can ask a teacher (through some kind of messaging system on the computer), and get a timely response.
[via Mobile Magazine]