Last updated: September 24, 2009 - 8:36am
As online high schools spread, educators are ramping up efforts to counter the social isolation that some students experience. At the same time, sociologists and child psychologists are examining how online schooling might hinder, or help, the development of social skills. Elizabeth Birr Moje, a professor of education at the University of Michigan who has studied online learning, says "there are some huge advantages" to online high schools, including an individualized pace and better access to multimedia content. "The disadvantage is that you may not learn to work with other people quite as well," she adds. Other education researchers believe online students will be better prepared to interact in an increasingly digital world. "What they learn while in the online high school will make them more adaptable thinkers," says Rand Spiro, a professor in education psychology at Michigan State University. Online learning, he says, takes students deeper into academic subjects more quickly.