California Learning Resource Network eLearning Census shows state “Between the Tipping Point and Critical Mass”

Brian Bridges of the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN)  has published CLRN’s latest eLearning Census. The results are important not only for what they tell us about online and blended learning in California, but also as one of the very few rigorous efforts to track eLearning across any state. Key findings from the report include:

“Online and blended populations grew last year. The census counted 125,265 online and blended students in 2012-2013, an 18% increase over the 2012 total. However, full-time virtual students rose 23% to 24,383 while the number of blended students rose 17% to 100,882. Median populations in all categories rose 25%. In 2013, the median virtual population was 70 students, up from 56 in 2012. The median of blended students rose from 80 to 100 students. The average number of summer school, virtual, and blended students all rose in 2013.

“The rate at which eLearning is being adopted, the blended models in use, and the desire to implement online or blended learning varies greatly depending on the district or charter grade span. While 46% of all respondents are implementing online or blended learning, just 19% of elementary districts (K-5 or K-8) engage in eLearning while 73% of unified and high school districts and charters (K-12 and 9-12) participate. Although 26% of those respondents who aren’t eLearning shared they are currently planning to implement online or blended learning, just 20% of elementary districts are discussing or planning implementation as compared with 44% of unified and high school districts.”

Regarding survey methods and response rates: “CLRN distributed a survey to 1014 California public school districts and 763 direct-funded charters. We received 516 responses accounting for 29% of the total. 46% of districts and direct-funded charters reported having students participate in online and blended learning.”

A nearly one-in-three response rate is fairly good, and as always we worry about a response bias in that it seems likely that districts and charter schools that are engaged in eLearning, or planning to, are more likely to respond than those that are not. Still, CLRN is providing a valuable service to policymakers in California and people interested in online and blended learning across the country.

Brian’s blog post summarizing the report can be found here. The blog has also run some useful infographics with data from the report.

Disclosure: CLRN has been a Keeping Pace sponsor, and we plan to use CLRN’s data in our 2013 report.