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Social Networking in Cyberschooling: Helping to Make Online Learning Less Isolating
ARTICLE

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TLRPTIL Volume 53, Number 4, ISSN 8756-3894

Abstract

Online learning at the K-12 level has been growing dramatically over the past decade in the United States and worldwide. Proceeding on a similar trajectory, the use of charter schools as a means to provide education choice in the United States has also grown. These two paths have converged in many instances to form online or virtual charter schools, often referred to as cyber charter schools or simply cyber schools. Students enrolled in most supplemental online learning programs remain in their brick-and-mortar school and are able to maintain personal and social connections with most of their teacher and fellow students. However, cyber charter schools often serve students on a full-time basis and, as a result, these students do not have the ability to interact with their teachers and classmates before and after class or in the hallways of the school. Overcoming this perceived sense of social isolation for full-time online learning programs is a major challenge that many cyber charter schools struggle with. In this article, the authors discuss one online school's attempt to address the social aspect of their students' experience by using social networking. The authors begin by describing the growth trends in cyber charter schools in the United States, followed by a brief description of Odyssey Charter High School (OCHS). The authors then trace the development of social networking at OCHS from initial attempts using a popular existing social network to the development of a closed virtual space. In their description of this development, the authors discuss some of the academic uses of the social network by teachers and students. Finally, the authors examine the use of this social network as a way to provide the out-of-class interaction that online students often do without.

Citation

Barbour, M. & Plough, C. (2009). Social Networking in Cyberschooling: Helping to Make Online Learning Less Isolating. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 53(4), 56-60. Retrieved October 17, 2019 from .

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