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Virtual space provides students with unlimited opportunities for self-development and learning. The World Wide Web has become a global phenomenon with a strong presence in Western Europe, North American and East Asian. The online network, thus, has a potent impact on social, cultural, and economic development of education (Bach, Haynes, & Smith, 2006, p. 8).
Distant learning, therefore, has influenced students’ opinion about the conventional systems of academic learning. The virtual high schooling has been of a particular concern to students with disabilities who have expanded their opportunities for continuing their education.
However, rapid expansion of online study has led to discussing the effectiveness and reliability of virtual learning (Heirdsfield, Walker, Tambyah, & Beutel, 2011). At this point, there is no unanimous opinion if online high schools meet the academic standards and are acceptable for students in terms of their chance for college admission (Barrett, 2011).
In addition, little evidence is presented about online courses as a sufficient basis for continuing traditional education. Therefore, it is necessary to define how online preparation in virtual schools influence college admission and evaluate the gap between online and traditional types of learning.
Online education first appeared in middle of the 90s to gradually become the common technique of distant learning used in the K-12 educational system. The definition of online education is often presented as “entity approved by a state or governing body that offers courses through distance delivery – most commonly using the Internet” (Barbour & Reeves, 2009, p. 402).
In contrast, a traditional outlook on schooling is confined to face-to-face communication and open discussions. Currently, online high schools provide alternative solutions to education for students who can take advantage of all opportunities offered online. In fact, virtual high schools can dominate over the traditional system of educations, especially if students search for flexibility and comfortableness (Reid, Aqui, & Putney, 2009).
However, it has been defined that online learning can be effective in case students are endowed with such characteristics as high motivation, independence in learning, sufficient time management skills, ambition to ask questions, and strong support of family (Reid et al., 2009). More importantly, online learners should depend on face-to-face communication.
However, success of distant learning is largely influenced by the quality of teaching (Baran, 2011; Scagnoli, Buki, & Johnson, 2009). In particular, online education can be challenged because of lack of qualified teachers who can introduce effective strategies of online learning (Harper & Boggan, 2011).
To gain a fresh insight into the primary advantages and disadvantages of virtual environment, as compared to the physical one, an in-depth evaluation of both is required from perspective of teachers and students (Murphy & Manzanares, 2008).
Most importantly, it is important to consider the benefits for students with disabilities to learn distantly (Repetto, Cavanaugh, Wayer, & Feng, 2010, p. 91). Overall, the discussion provides incentives to focus on specific groups of student for whom online education is the best solution to receive education.
Statement of Problem
Little research exists concerning the influence of online preparation on college admission. Specifically, literature provides a review of online learning development as a separate field of education that fails to intertwine with traditional educational systems. In addition, no connection is drawn between the requirements for online learners and the ones presented to traditional learners.
Finally, the problem of online teaching techniques is discussed, but with little emphasis on its applicability to physical environment.
The purpose of the research is to conduct a quantitative analysis about the impact of academic preparation in a virtual environment on college admission for online high school students.
At this point, it is necessary to analyze the benefits and educational programs provided by online courses and compare those to academic curriculum offered in a physical environment. The independent variable, therefore, is online preparation of high school students whereas the dependent variable will be number of online learners admitted to college.
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By design, the research should be based on a qualitative analysis of interviews and observations, as well as supported materials, including evaluation of online programs in several online high schools and their comparison with traditional high schools programs (Creswell, 2009). The primary data will be collected from the participants who take online courses, as well as teachers offering virtual services.
Bach, S., Haynes, P., & Smith, J. L. (2006). Online Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. UK: McGraw-Hill International.
Baran, E. (2011). Transforming online teaching practice: critical analysis of the literature on the roles and competencies of online teachers. Distance Education, 32(3), 421-439.
Barbour, M. K., & Reeves, C. T. (2009). The reality of virtual schools: A review of the literature. Computers & Education, 52, 402-416.
Barrett, B. (2010). Virtual Teaching and Strategies: Transitioning From Teaching Traditional Classes to Online Classes. Contemporary Issues In Education Research, 3(12), 17-20.
Creswell, J. W. (Eds). (2009). Research Design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Harper, S., & Boggan, M. (2011). Opinions, Benefits, and Weaknesses of Virtual High School and Compressed Video Courses in a Rural Mississippi High School. Journal Of Technology Integration In The Classroom, 3(2), 37-39.
Heirdsfield, A., Walker, S., Tambyah, M., & Beutel, D. (2011). Blackboard as an Online Learning Environment: What Do Teacher Education Students and Staff Think?. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(7), 1-16.
Murphy, E., & Manzanares, M. (2008). Contradictions between the Virtual and Physical High School Classroom: A Third-Generation Activity Theory Perspective. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 39(6), 1061-1072.
Reid, K. M., Aqui, Y., & Putney, L. G. (2009). Evaluation of an evolving virtual high school. Educational Media International, 46(4), 281-294.
Repetto, J., Cavanaugh, C., Wayer, N., & Feng, L. (2010). VIRTUAL HIGH SCHOOLS: Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities. Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, 11(2), 91-104.
Scagnoli, N. I., Buki, L. P., & Johnson, S. D. (2009). The Influence of Online Teaching on Face-to-Face Teaching Practices. Journal Of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 13(2), 115-128.