At the 2011 Virtual School Symposium (VSS) in Indianapolis, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) released the report Online and Blended Learning: A survey of Policy and Practice of K-12 Schools Around the World, which showcases the ways that new technologies and learning models have accelerated across the globe.
The authors worked with researchers in more than 60 countries to deliver 50 completed surveys that covered 23 questions on funding, students, professional development, quality assessment, challenges, and technology (4).
The report first outlines the models of online and blended learning, which include asynchronous learning, blended learning, content repository, digital learning, distance education, face-to-face, online course, online learning and synchronous learning (7-8). Then, it travels from country-to-country to outline specific case studies, facts and information unique to each location.
Key findings from the report identify five major trends and prominent challenges from the surveys (9-22). The trends include:
- “Blended and online choices are most available to students in urban areas from developed countries.”
- “Growth in digital learning stems from shared authority between local schools and national governments.”
- “Specialized teacher training is not required but is encouraged and available.”
- “Blended learning is occurring with much greater frequency than online learning.”
- “Use of online learning is most prevalent by students with special circumstances (10-14).”
- “A lack of knowledge about online learning.”
- “Sporadic interest in online learning.”
- “Illiteracy and access to technology.”
- “Lack of funding.”
- “Lack of governmental vision and leadership (18-20).”
The report also included the following interesting facts:
- Sixty percent of countries surveyed reported government funding for online or blended learning.
- Twenty-five percent of countries surveyed require teacher training for online learning.
- China’s first online school was created in 1996; today it has expanded to more than 200 online schools with enrollments exceeding 600,000 students.
- Seventy-two percent of the surveyed countries reported that their online and blended classroom teachers participated in professional development for online teaching.
- Universities and colleges were reported as the primary source of training for educators, followed by regional centers and local schools.
- In British Columbia, online schools provide complete programs or individual courses to 71,000 students, which is about 12 percent of the student population.
- In 2010, Hong Kong enacted a policy recommendation for digital learning that “debundled” textbooks and teaching materials to make them more affordable and accessible to schools, and accelerated the development of an online depository of curriculum-based learning and teaching resources. A pilot scheme later resulted in a program made available to all 410,000 primary and secondary students in 300,000 low-income families—especially the 8 percent without Internet access at home—to gain access to the Internet for the purpose of learning.
Online and Blended Learning was written by Michael Barbour, Regina Brown, Lisa Hasler Waters, Rebecca Hoey, Jeffrey L. Hunt, Katheryn Kennedy, Chantal Ounsworth, Allison Powell and Trina Trimm. Click here to view the full report. For more visit inacol.org.