About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

Online 101: What I’ve Learned About e-Learning

In the week that my 14-year-old has been attending online school as an alternative to a three-hour roundtrip bus ride, I’ve learned a lot about online learning.

No matter how computer-savvy you think you are, you won’t get the hang of the system overnight. Especially if you’re a Mac person navigating a system that was probably designed by a PC person.

Online school requires a different mindset. The markers that give you breathing space in a brick-and-mortar school—semester breaks, inservice trainings, weekends—don’t necessarily exist in online school. Plan your work accordingly and you’ve got a free weekend. If you need to play catchup, the virtual school doors don’t swing shut on Saturdays and Sundays.

Online school isn’t going away. Researchers from Harvard have predicted that half of all high-school courses could be online by 2019.

Online school isn’t a hands-off proposition for parents. Attendance monitor, lunch lady, and PE aide are some of the roles that you play. Checking student progress through the parent portal. Making sure the student breaks up computer time with physical activity. And preparing two more meals a day that you didn’t before. When filling out the initial paperwork, I was surprised to see the application for reduced-price meals that parents see every year. (This information, I learned, is used to determine school funding.)

“What kind of reduced-price meals are served in an online school?,” I wondered.

“Spam,” said Wyatt, who wants to be a standup comic.

Like online anything in its infancy, online education gets the fisheye from people. Back in the 1990s online dating was considered for losers. Today, match.com and eHarmony have over 29 million and 9 million members respectively. Not that I’m comparing education to dating. But the similarity is this: what was once considered unseemly eventually becomes mainstream.

Controlling costs of education is a hot topic in state politics. During the Gubernatorial debate at the State Fair last September 3, Republican candidate Tom Emmer floated the idea of specializing university offerings by geographic locations: medical careers in Rochester and public safety in Fergus Falls, for example. (The actual words are at 26:22.) Emmer didn’t win. But a lot of candidates who might agree with Emmer did.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has frequently touted the idea of “iCollege.” But iCollege can’t serve the entire state without iBroadband. Independence Party candidate Tom Horner was an advocate of statewide broadband access. I hope it’s an issue that Governor Dayton takes up.

At the end of Wyatt's first week my husband Mike took him and his buddy Damion to a movie in Hinckley, followed by a stop at DQ. The movie was a comedy, Paul, a fun way to unwind after a sometimes-trying week. 

This summer our family will be moving to southeast Minnesota. Wyatt will finish out this school year online, and next fall will be attending a school that’s six miles away instead of 18 miles away. He's looking forward to it. For now, online school is filling a niche that needed filling. And it's a learning experience for all of us. 


  1. Interesting info and enjoyed the Spam comment. i've joked that my daughter will be "home-college-ing" someday.

  2. Laura, it's great to hear from you! I suspect cost-cutting and tuition increases will result in more parents considering options that they've joked about in the past. Good luck to you and you family-- and thanks for reading.

  3. I'm sorry to hear you will be moving, but unfortunately there just aren't that many opportunities around here. Glad the online school is working out well for Wyatt!

  4. Thanks Deb. This is the solution that works for our family at the moment. But the greater solution is a more sustainable economy. An entire segment of the state can't pull up stakes and move. I hope things don't get much worse before they get better.

    Wyatt is enjoying online school, though he pointed out the inequity of not having a snow day the other day! :=)

  5. It's interesting to read a first hand experience (yours) of online schooling for kids. You're right, it wont be long when more parents would be considering that option.

    Great share - a must read, educative information for moms, I must say.

  6. Thanks Stelsie! It's been an eye-opener, that's for sure.


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