This week at the iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium, the Evergreen Education Group released their 2014 Keeping Pace With K-12 Digital Learning Report. Their 11th annual report tracks online and blended learning policy, practice and landscape across the 50 states. With the continued increase in outsourced jobs and more of our careers becoming automated, it is of great importance that we innovate education and create a 21st century learning environment and experiences for all students.
During a breakout session Wednesday, John Watson, founder of Evergreen, led a thorough and informative discussion about this year’s report. Here’s a few highlights:
- Charter schools by far have the most digital learning activity taking place in their schools, followed by traditional public schools and lastly private schools
- While 10 years ago digital learning was mostly considered state level and fully online, it has since evolved into a greater district level, blended activity approach
- There are 4 main reasons schools are going digital
- Student achievement
- Technology skills
- Cost (check out EdTech Buyers Guide)
- There are now 26 states that offer a state virtual school to their students and that number is growing consistently
- Course Access programs have received a lot of attention but there is still a small number of state policies in place. This has created major gaps for access around the country
What Students are Saying:
On Monday, Mickey Revenaugh of Connections Education hosted a live web conference that included a student panel with four students from different backgrounds who are enrolled in fully online learning for a number of reasons. Here’s what those students had to say:
How has online learning helped prepare you for life after high school?
Senior Rocki Hudson has been accepted to three colleges and said her Nexus Academy counselor has helped her pick the best college for her goals, complete her applications and will provide further assistance as she makes the transition into college.
US Olympic diving team member Jordan Windle appreciates the flexibility online learning through International Connections Academy provides. Jordan is able to travel to diving events and rigorous practices while also completing courses that he feels will prepare him for college.
Students also said online learning has helped them improve their time management as well as giving them the responsibility to be in control of their learning outcomes.
How has your social interaction been impacted by online learning?
All of the students agree that they haven’t noticed a big impact on their socialization. The traditional schools they previously attended allow them to join field trips, visit during lunches and participate in other school activities. The students also had a collective agreement that their classes provide ample one-on-one time that keeps them engaged.
How hard is the academic portion of your coursework?
Students agreed that coursework through their online classes is very similar to traditional high school work and that it was a slightly harder due to the self driven nature and responsibility that’s associated with online learning.
What are you excited to see in 2015? What direction do you see online learning going over the next few months?
Download your copy of the 2014 Keeping Pace report here.
Connections Education is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.