their lives, and compose written “
self-portraits.” This personal specificity
and the inclusion of idea development
steps made it impossible for students
to find ready-made papers online, and
the amount of work and introspection
involved discouraged others from taking
the class for enrolled students.
I also found, though, that I had to
change some of my expectations and
embrace the nature of online learning
for what it is. I had a series of podcast
lectures instructing students about the
elements of writing we were studying,
and I wanted to use quizzes as a way
to ensure that students watched these
lessons. I knew, however, that it would
be virtually impossible to prevent
students from consulting reference
materials or other people when taking
an online quiz. Rather than fight this,
I allowed students to consult other
materials and to take the quizzes mul-
tiple times. After all, my goal in having
quizzes was to ensure that students
learned the content—why would I pro-
hibit anything that might improve that
content mastery? Their papers were the
main assessment; the quizzes just served
as an accountability tool to lead them in
the right direction.
Objection 4: Online classes
Another immediate objection to online
education is equitable access. Forty-
seven percent of students in my school
qualify for free and reduced-price lunch;
many do not have computers or Internet
access at home. How could they par-
ticipate in an online class? Even if stu-
dents did have access to the essential
technology, would they have the skills
necessary to use it?
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66 EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP /FEBRUARY 2011