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What is online learning, exactly? Two principals explain

When we reported about the Department of Education’s new technology-driven “Innovation Zone,” some of our readers were skeptical about the practical realities and policy effects of substituting the Internet for a traditional classroom setting.

Today, Mary Moss and Alisa Berger, the principals of iSchool, a two-year-old school at the Innovation Zone’s vanguard, respond in the GothamSchools community section with a long defense of online learning at their school.

Outlining the opportunities and challenges they’ve faced in moving some instruction online, they write:

While the argument for incorporating online instruction into students’ high school experience is compelling and strong, online learning isn’t easy for the teacher or student. Our students often tell us it would be so much easier if someone would just lecture at them and tell them what to memorize. Indeed, it would be easier, but we don’t embrace online learning at the iSchool to make learning easier. Of course, online learning does not in and of itself make classes rigorous, but used correctly, online learning enables each student to work on the content on which he needs to work — providing a level of individualization that is just not possible in a classroom with even the most gifted or experienced teacher.