High School on the Web

By Liz Pape

The millennial generation has always had access to technology. Surrounded by computers and portable video games, students born between 1982 and 2000 spend more time surfing the Web, building websites, communicating through instant messaging, and writing blogs than they do watching television.

As school board members and administrators, the challenge is how to reach this generation. How can we provide them with the 21st century learning skills they need -- not just in school, but throughout their lifetime?

In an age in which the amount of published information on the Internet doubles every 54 days, we cannot continue to focus on an educational system that primarily delivers information to students. Teachers no longer can be positioned as the resident gurus and sources for all learning.

Instead, we should focus on building students' literacy skills so they can ask questions, define inquiry, research multiple sources, authenticate sources of information, process and synthesize data and information, draw conclusions, and develop action plans based on their newfound knowledge. They must be able to filter the vast quantity of information they receive and determine what is authentic, useful, and of value. They need to work collaboratively in project-based activities, valuing each individual's contributions to the effort and building on the learning for all.

Online education, which harnesses the power of technology while capitalizing on the students' interest in it, is helping us transform our education system by delivering this valuable curriculum over the Internet. Through online courses and virtual schools that serve both students and teachers, we can shift our focus from the three R's to an education system that builds skills in the three C's: content, collaboration, and community.

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