Susan Patrick, President, iNACOL today made it pretty clear that the nation is at the bottom of the S-curve when it comes to future innovations and rapid uptake of online learning initiatives in schools everywhere.  It won’t be long before a huge increase in online education hits us. Even more likely if states keep heading towards their deficit cliffs.

We even heard today on several news channels that states are not hiring back teachers because they want to save the money from the edujobs bill. No telling right now what that might mean for spending on online. But be assured, demand will raise a rallying cry. As more parents realize they can lobby for more personalized education for their kids, changes will come.

Was she talking to a receptive audience in Salt Lake City? The Utah Legislature is trying to hammer out a bill for immigration reform. One faction of the Republicans really want a bill that looks just like the Arizona bill. There’s another faction that wants something a little more balanced out. So, in the midst of all of these caucus meetings, many of the Republicans were not in attendance at the meeting of the Education Interim Committee. Still, Patrick had a good 16 or so Senators and representatives to talk to about digital learning.

A good thing, since the Digital Learning Council rolled out today, and the conversation is about to get a bit bigger and more vocal.

Senator Howard Stephenson, the chair of the Committee, seemed very open to online learning and digital learning strategies. He pointed out that adaptive testing helps out kids who are failing school. They take something like the tests provided by NWEA and find out how intelligent they are, and it changes their mindset. “It’s a pleasant surprise to many on the ADD side.”

Online is growing 30% a year over the past ten years. That includes K12 and higher education. “Most of those are happening on campus,” says Patrick.

Number one reason they take it: the course is not available at their local schools.

We are on our way to 50% of high school courses being offered online,” says Patrick.

If that’s the case, perhaps a revamped Education Interim Committee in the next legislative session might move some things in Utah. The word around the Capitol today was that there are some members of the Legislature that are not fond of online learning. Those people are likely not going to be a part of the committee next session.

It was interesting, however, to find that Democrat Representatives, some of whom are teachers and some of whom are actually quite left-leaning and not normally in the pro-charter or education reform camp, are actually getting into deals with online universities to teach classes through them.

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