Research Efforts and the California eLearning Census

As an increasing proportion of online and blended learning activity moves to the district level, we and other researchers are challenged by the fact that little data exists about district-level online and blended learning programs. In other categories of programs, data are generally more available because either 1) the schools are public schools that report data to the state (e.g., full-time online charter schools; or 2) the number of programs is limited so we are able to track many of them down and contact them directly (e.g., state virtual schools and large consortium programs). The recent NCES report helped alleviate this data shortfall, but more work is needed in order to have a better sense for what is happening within districts in most states. Within this context, we are pleased to see the effort of the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) in surveying schools across California. CLRN will launch the California eLearning Census March 1st to measure online learning’s growth and impact, including contacting all county offices, school districts, and direct-funded charters to request their participation.

The eLearning Census asks districts to count the number of students who are taking all of their courses online away from school, as well as those who are learning online at a school campus. It will also track those districts that have integrated online learning in their summer school programs, have utilized virtual courses in their Independent Study programs, and have blended online learning with traditional instruction.

Survey data will be published in Keeping Pace 2012, and we expect it to be used within California as well. Census data will help inform educators and policy makers about online learning’s trends and rapid proliferation in California. Evergreen is partnering with CLRN to assist with the census, although CLRN is doing much of the footwork. The California Technology Assistance Project will work with CLRN to notify districts as well.

We expect this effort to help California policymakers and educators better understand what is happening in their states, and hope to see similar efforts in other states as well.

California eLearning Census