Throwing the baby out with the bath water
We are continuing our examination of trends and themes identified in this year’s Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning 2012 (http://kpk12.com/reports/). Our next theme is perhaps more of a response to a theme we are seeing, which is that much of the media and legislative attention on online learning has been on fully online learning (students taking a full schedule of courses online). Innovators sometimes overlook the benefits, and challenges, of “traditional” online learning such as single online courses that are made available to students in physical schools. These courses and programs continue to deliver new opportunities to hundreds of thousands of students across the country. They are increasingly being offered by individual districts, often working in conjunction with private providers and/or public agencies such as state virtual schools.
Supplemental, or part-time, online learning, is available to many students across the country (see our previous post and the state table on pp. 14-16 in this year’s report for our thoughts on availability of online options). Twenty-seven states have state virtual schools, the number of district programs and the number of students they serve are both growing each year, and an increasing number of consortia are making courses available to students. These programs are expanding course catalogs, providing credit recovery and dual enrollment options, making highly-qualified STEM teachers available to rural students, and preparing students with skills for college and career.