A new survey has found that school districts across the country are offering significantly more online learning programs in 2013 compared to 2012 and are increasingly focusing on providing blended learning and online courses for credit, according to a K12 Inc. statement.
The survey, conducted by MDR's EdNET Insight, targeted district- and school-level leaders, including superintendents, assistant superintendents, curriculum directors, principals and teachers who have had experience implementing online learning programs. A total of 165 leaders responded, 24% from districts with more than 1,000 enrolled students.
The survey's key findings reveal that schools are using blended learning programs. Two-thirds of respondents report use of a blended model. Full-time online programs in districts with 10,000-plus students increase significantly to 48% this year from 27% in 2012.
According to the survey, three factors were rated as most critical for success in implementing credit recovery, online courses and full-time online learning. Those factors include: tracking student progress with reporting tools; offering rigorous and engaging curriculum; and having teachers available to intervene/assist struggling students.
When asked how to measure quality in online learning programs, the highest rated response was "the student demonstrates significant academic progress in the year."
The survey found that 81% of responding districts offer online courses, compared to 66% in 2012;, while 82% offer an online credit recovery program. Further, 66% adopted a blended learning model, compared to 34% that primarily use a fully online learning model.
"Educators across the country increasingly see online learning as an excellent way to provide students more options to meet their individual needs," said Gregg Levin, senior vice president of K12's Institutional Business, which serves schools and districts.
87% of respondents said that students' significant academic progress is the best way to measure quality in an online program, while 85% said that it is important to provide engaging and highly interactive curriculum to students.
"With so many curriculum and content options available today, district leaders recognize that it is critical to support online learning programs with technology that not only provides detailed tracking and reporting, but also that can simplify administration of all programs and enable course personalization, all in one place," Levin added.
Online learning is set to develop in new directions in 2014. In North Carolina, Davidson College has teamed up with online education platform provider edX and the College Board to develop online courses for students in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. The partnership plans to provide AP teachers and their students with access to a suite of online instructional modules to improve educational outcomes in calculus, physics and macroeconomics.
Davidson College will develop a new blended learning model that will use exam data to pinpoint challenging concepts and then it will develop and present concept-based resources using the edX platform for teachers and students, the college said in a statement.
Microsoft, Google, Apple and Samsung are also seeing new opportunities in the education technology market — and what these tech giants will bring to the classroom could surprise educators. Google recently unveiled Connected Classrooms, a competing program that will connect K-12 teachers with virtual field trip resources and best practices. Launched on November 4th, the program is designed to boost teacher collaboration and cultivate digital skills for students.