Indiana to Embrace High School Online Learning Requirements

The Indiana Senate Committee on Education and Career Development has passed a bill that would require students in the state to take a virtual instruction course before they graduate from high school.

The bill, authored by Republican State Sen. Jim Banks of Columbia City, is now set to move to the Senate for authorization. Senate Republicans are said to be confident about the legislation, which would ensure high school students are proficient in online learning before they enter college or the workforce, writes Mark Mellinger at

Banks said:

"Technology has changed how we work and live.

"The ability to work with new technologies is absolutely necessary for our modern workforce, and students must be prepared."

If the bill passes, it would begin with freshman classes that start in 2013. From then on, students will be expected to pass at least one virtual instruction course or credit requirement for their Core 40 diploma.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett highlighted the importance of online coursework in his list of priorities for the 2012 legislative session. And a bill like this would not only help to work towards making Indiana students more computer-literate, it will also save a lot of money and make better use of time and teacher talent, said Banks.

This comes after the Indiana School District enacted a proposal that would see students in the state use laptops more frequently than textbooks.

Munster, Indiana made the leap from traditional textbook-learning by removing all math and science textbooks for its 2,600 students in grades 5 to 12 and using interactive computer programs, writes Alan Schwarz at the New York Times.

The transformation, which cost $1.1 million, is the beginning of what officials say will be a profound digital transformation of county schools, writes Emma Brown at the Washington Post.

Florida, Louisiana, Utah and West Virginia approved multimedia textbooks for the first time for the 2011-12 school year, and Indiana went so far as to scrap its textbook-approval process altogether. The decision was partly because, officials said, the definition of a textbook will only continue to fracture and morph.

 "We've stopped pretending that the state board of education is the biggest school district in the state," said Bennett.

"I believe in local control, and we don't have the ability to be the keeper of knowledge we have been in the past. We'll be better off if we uncuff people's hands."

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