Two things that are becoming apparent about the current generation of kids in schools right now: they were raised with technology and and have an entrepreneurial spirit with the need to give back. This creates a dynamic and ambitious group of students and also makes it much more competitive for college acceptance. It is normal to have students with GPA’s higher then 4.0, who have started their own companies, who have created nonprofits, volunteer in their communities and manage to find time to play sports or participate in clubs and organizations.

In Washington State, one of the first states where K-12 online education was offered statewide, students are allowed to participate in Running Start, a dual enrollment program that allows them to begin college courses in 11th and 12th grade. It is a state funded program (i.e., about 90% of the state funds follows students to college) that can take place on a community college campus or online through one of the many online courses. There is a possibility to finish your prerequisites for a certain degree or even receive your AA degree by the time you finish high school. By participating in Running Start and by taking online courses for two summers, I was able to complete high school and college in five and half years.

EdWeek’s Michelle Davis explains how students are now allowed to take AP courses online. Schools no longer will be limited in their offering of courses due to lack of money, isolated locations or low student numbers. This is not only a forward move for digital education but is allowing access to every student everywhere. Michelle highlights the offering of AP courses online in Kentucky:

In the library of online education, Advanced Placement courses were some of the first to be offered electronically, in part because of attention called to the inequity allowing students in affluent areas to access those courses while those in low-income or rural areas often could not. Organizations such as Kentucky Virtual Schools, a state-affiliated institution based in Frankfort, were actually started with the intent of providing equal access to AP courses, said Kiley Whitaker, a resource-management analyst with the Kentucky Department of Education.

The students are prepared and adapt to online learning very easily due to being raised in a technology based generation but it is also important for teachers to be prepared in teaching this content. Patricia Hawke outlines Wisconson’s efforts to provide professional development for teacher in online learning. It is suggested to required to finish this professional development and begin to include it in their class options for students. Wisconsin is not alone though–48 states now offer some online learning.

Digital Learning will soon the be the norm, not the exception.  It will personalize and accelerate learning.  It will stem rising costs and it will help prepare more students for college and careers.

For more, see Digital Learning Now

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