Online high school

-The far-reaching impact of the Internet and communication technology has yet to be fully understood. Every week, it seems, a new business venture appears that applies the power of digital technology to a new arena, raising mind-boggling possibilities and new complications.

One of the latest developments: online high schools established by colleges and universities. The New York Times takes note of this trend with the entry of Stanford, one of the recent institutions to embark on this new business.

While Wheaton has not joined the rush to establish its own high school, President Ronald Crutcher‘s role as co-chair of a national campaign to promote liberal learning led the New York Times to talk with him about the trend.

“From my perspective, colleges, concentrate on what you’re good at,” said Ronald A. Crutcher, president of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., who added that he had recently declined an offer from a for-profit education company to join other small liberal arts institutions in forming an online high school in their image. “Be consultants, but don’t contribute to a trend that I think has some real problems.”

In more extensive remarks on the subject, President Crutcher has said that distance learning, itself, shows great promise.

“Online learning has tremendous potential for extending access to education, but it has limits,” Crutcher said. “This is true on the college and university level, but these limits may be even more obvious, given the age of high school students, and the importance of human interaction in their development. High school students are still developing in so many ways–intellectually, emotionally and socially as well as physically. A traditional high school provides students with opportunities to grow in all those dimensions”.

In other areas, President Crutcher has championed the use of technology in education. In fact, Wheaton and a small group of other leading liberal arts colleges are currently exploring the establishment of an online learning program in which courses would be made available to the students at each of the member institutions.