By Anya Kamenetz Asia Jackson likes to learn at the computer because she can work at her own pace, which is usually faster than her classmates’. Al-Tariq Linton says, “It’s one on one. If I have a question, instead of competing for the teacher’s attention, I can go back and read it on my own.” Wanda Williams says her favorite part of the online course she’s taking is the narrator of the videos it includes. “Rufus made it funny,” she says. “It was fun.”
As interest in online education rages, these 17- and 18-year-old students at Newark, N.J.’s West Side High are guinea pigs in a global experiment to answer a key but surprisingly elusive question: whether and when it actually works.