The Current Status and Future of K-12 Online Education: US Case

Riza Ulker, Ahmet M. Ozturk, and Tankut Aslantas


Online Education, Brick and Mortar Schools, Brick and Click Schools, Cyber Schools, Screenagers


Cyber Schools, digital schools, online schools, virtual schools, internet schools, and e-learning, no matter what it is called online education is a new phenomenon in education that is not fully understood. A new trend that is hard to comprehend by just reading or hearing about it. The investigator of this study did not solely rely on the literature and decided to visit a cyber charter school district and visit the homes of cyber charter school students to gather observational data for this study. The investigator was aware of a new learner type that is called “Screenagers” in the literature. A case study approach was used to develop insights into the phenomenon, in this case, the present and future of cyber education. Qualitative inquiry methods were used in this study. These methods allowed the researcher to capture an understanding of the perspectives of the CEO’s, cyber charter parents and education academics regarding cyber education. Consisted with its theoretical framework, Constructivism, this study has followed a qualitative approach to explore the nature of construct. The goal of this qualitative case study was to explore what the charter school directors, cyber charter school parents and education academics believed the current situation of cyber schools in a US State to be and what their visions of cyber schools were for the future. Through this search, the researcher examined the effects of the progresses that are currently taking place in the cyber schools and across this US state. Three different methods of data collection were used; site visit and interviewing charter CEOs, home visits to cyber charter students’ homes and interviewing parents, and information sessions and interviewing education academics. A leadership group consisting charter school CEOs, including the researcher visited the cyber charter school district led by one of the CEOs to learn how cyber curriculum can be integrated into their existing academic programs. The leader of the group was the president of the state’s coalition of public charter schools and CEO of one of the charter schools in the state. The investigator also visited homes of fourteen cyber charter school students as a second step of data collection. Cyber charter parents were interviewed on the subject; The investigator visited the homes of 14 cyber charter school students in the state and took observation notes as they were either receiving a box full of instructional materials from the cyber charter School or working on the computer connected to their online classrooms. Later, information gathered from the site visit and home visits were presented to thirty-six education academics in six different information sessions. After the information sessions, education academics were interviewed on the subject. Three different questions asked during interviews; How cyber curriculum can be integrated into existing academic programs of brick and mortar charter schools? What is your role as a cyber charter school parent? What do you believe the present state of cyber schools in your state is? Cyber charter school CEOs reported on a conceptual change in schooling, from two extreme end of schooling; traditional brick and mortar schools and futuristic cyber schools to combination of both; Brick and Click Schools. Parents reported that while some of public school parents are accused of using schools as baby-sitting services, cyber charter schools required full time supervision at homes. Education academics reported heavy criticism on social development of cyber school students.

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