After viewing the video posted to the weeks content. the first thing that surprised me is the law in the state of Michigan pertaining to financial responsibility. I had no idea that virtual schooling providers were independent of a school district and that the home school district would be required to pay. I did have some idea that some schools provide a partial block of online learning only because I worked for an educational publisher and dealt with many schools and districts who purchased digital products.
It certainly didn't surprise me that a virtual education is not only for gifted learners, I have seen and thought that this kind of education accommodating different types of learners, including at risk students and students needing an individualized pace and instruction.
I was also not surprised that virtual schooling does not lack interaction. I feel that many times, especially introverted students receive more interaction because they can ask questions without an audience, without fear of being ostracized and also posting to a message board for other students to answer. I also feel that it's helpful to the instructor since they are not being asked the same question over and over again, which often happens.
I also feel that there are so many ways for students to turn in homework, email, google groups, and other services and also sharing ideas through cloud based services, it is a lot easier to collaborate. It also helps alleviate the issue of constantly losing assignments for unorganized students. However, while they are not isolated, I think the use of video based interaction like google hangouts is necessary so we don't lose out on personal communication skills that are needed in the working world.
I can also see how online teachers work harder and is more than just putting it up on a website. There is constant revising and as new technology emerges, we are always looking at the many options we have and also teaching the students how to use that technology in addition to the standards-based content. While I teach in a traditional classroom, I have 8 laptops in my room and spend a vast amount of time revising the website to adjust for new students and different learners. I spend my entire Sunday every week just revising the website. This is in addition to the 9 page weekly lesson plan with standards, I Can statements, essential question, etc.
I also feel students really need to be self motivated or self starters to succeed in an online learning environment. It is very easy to slack off when you don't have someone harassing you for missing assignments and fooling around.
I found most of the myths not surprising, but most surprising was how many variables go into online learning such as state laws and financial responsibility. I am aware of schools doing blended learning but I haven't been able to experience that on my own.