“Time to Embrace Online Learning” by Barbara Dreyer was originally published on the Pearson FWD blog.
To be successful, our public education system must continually evolve and adapt to take advantage of innovation that supports different ways students learn. Today, young people are spending a significant portion of their lives online and learning in ways that take advantage of a wide-open universe of information available to them 24/7. Educators must embrace this innovation and the power of online learning.
America’s K-12 educational system is in crisis and is failing too many children, especially children who aren’t well served in traditional schools – students who are falling behind or want more challenge, students with health issues, and students who need a more flexible school schedule. We must look for bold solutions to our education challenges. Technology has the power to transform education and help all children achieve academic success by delivering personalized, student-centric learning and ongoing performance data to inform instruction. That’s why, for many families, Connections Academy schools are an educational lifeline.
Full-time virtual school provides a visionary approach to education in the 21st Century. We now have the means to provide tailored instruction and intervention that isn’t inhibited by the seat-time or classroom constraints found in traditional schools.
But confronting these innovations are critics who are determined to defend the status quo and question new approaches to teaching and learning, like virtual schools.
I have dedicated the last 10 years to building a high-quality K-12 online school program. I know first-hand that these criticisms oversimplify the diverse and rapidly changing landscape in online learning. Connections Academy has a proven track record of delivering academic achievement for students. Our graduates have gone on to further their educations at some of the finest colleges and universities. Thousands of parents – year after year – choose to re-enroll their students in our schools and give us satisfaction ratings higher than the national average for all public schools. Federal AYP results on par with bricks and mortar schools, state report cards, and awards that recognize our excellent teachers further tell the Connections Academy success story.
I welcome an open dialogue on the relative costs and benefits associated with online learning and virtual schools. But that dialogue is not served by biased news reports that fail to account for the tangible, demonstrable, student successes in the field.