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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Good Reasons Not to Force Online Teaching

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laptop screen: class is in session

Credit: The Blue Skunk Blog

The average teen spends 16.7 hours a week on the Internet, not counting time spent with e-mail, according to a survey by Yahoo! and ad agency Carat Interactive. Yikes. It's a good thing the Indiana General Assembly dropped a plan to mandate virtual instruction for all high school students. As a teacher myself, I can testify that lack of technological aptitude is not a problem.

The thornier challenge for schools in the digital age is this one: How do we get students who spent 16.7 hours a week on the Internet to perform tasks that require concentrated attention and deep, thoughtful problem solving? Those are the skills that students are no longer mastering. And time spent online is one reason why.

There is plenty of technology in our schools now. Unfortunately, the early data doesn't look so good. Colorado reported in June that "results indicate achievement of online students consistently lags behind those of non-online students."

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