Those who know me know patience isn't one of my virtues. And, although I loved school I was in a hurry to finish and decided to got to summer school freshman year. At the time it seemed like a good idea. In just six weeks, I could finish my last term of calculus and then really get into my major.
Summer school was a challenge. The class met five days a week and things progressed quickly. Being a studier, I still managed an A. Unfortunately that A meant nothing in the long scheme of my math education. The knowledge that was crammed into my head in that short period of time left almost as quickly as it entered. It wasn't until I retook the course on sabbatical years later that I really learned the material. This time, the course lasted an entire semester and I had time to digest and practice everything I learned. I feel confident walking into the math lab and helping any calc 2 or 3 student, something I would have never done after the quickie course.
I was reminded of this experience when I read this article about Olympus HS on Gotham Schools. More kids are graduating now than before because of thee online courses. One girl said she likes to go fast and can make up the work in record time. I won't dispute the work she is doing. I do question the retention of what she has learned. Passing a regents is meaningless since passing scores are so low and the marking is so liberal. Kids graduating from this program will have a diploma but nothing else in the way of preparation for life and college.
Online studies, in conjunction to classroom learning, is a move in the right direction. Online studies in a vacuum is not. And speed courses are not the way to teach anything anyone wants to learn.