Article: Who is Teaching? New Roles for Teachers and Parents in Cyber Charter Schools

The article “Who is Teaching? New Roles for Teachers and Parents in Cyber Charter Schools” brings up some interesting points that I’ve heard discussed at some of the conferences I have attended about K-12 Online learning.

The main point it makes is that in an online environment parents often become additional teachers. The abstract from the article captures some of the main points:

While teachers in cyber charter schools play the important role of supporting students, many of these schools also rely heavily on the parents or guardians of students to act as co-educators. Teachers are no longer the sole providers of instruction. However, little is known about the roles of parents or guardians, referred to as learning coaches, and there are concerns over the quality of educational support they give students. The purpose of this exploratory study was to elucidate the roles of teachers and parents in a cyber charter school. The findings revealed that teachers traded in their student management responsibilities to focus on being content experts and facilitators, while learning coaches assumed responsibility for managing their own children and for guiding them through the curriculum. Challenges arose when their roles crossed paths, or when it was unclear who should be ultimately accountable for the student’s academic progress. Implications from this study suggested that (a) there is a need to better understand how to articulate their roles to enable them to be more effective at supporting their students and (b) that these co-educators may need training and support specific to these dynamic roles.

There are many questions that arise from this aspect of online learning. For example: How different is this from home schooling? What if the parent is not well-versed in a content area? What does this mean for equity in online schools? How can we design programs better with the knowledge that parents play such a key role? Should students whose parents do not have the time to teach be enrolled in an online program that relies on parent engagement?

Sometimes I like to call online learning Homeschooling 2.0. Don’t steal it, it is my line!

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