Students in Florida can now take many of their core classes in a room with a computer and no teacher. The state of Florida passed an amendment in 2002 called the Florida Class Size Reduction Amendment which allows them to place virtual e-learning labs in schools.
Although this amendment limits the number of students allowed in a classroom, there are no limits to the virtual labs. Unfortunately for students, many of them were placed in these virtual classroom courses without signing up for them. The setup of an e-learning lab is typically a room filled with computers. There is no teacher in this setting, just a facilitator that makes sure students progress in the course and addresses any technical problems.
There are 54 total participating schools in the Miami-Dade County school system that use the virtual labs and the online courses are provided by Florida Virtual School. Students are able to call, email or text online instructors for help when they need it, but they receive no face time with a teacher in this type of setting. Many students find this type of learning environment difficult because you have to be self motivated.
School administrators have stated that these labs are necessary because there is no other way to beat the class size mandate without them. Many teachers have expressed concern over the methods that students are being taught through these labs. Some believe that incorporating the labs with face-to-face instruction would be more beneficial to students.
Even with the complaints from parents, students and teachers, the virtual learning models aren’t going anywhere. These types of labs have started to catch on in several areas across the country and the numbers are growing within the state of Florida.
Via The New York Times