This is an exciting time in education. Today’s technologies, innovations and trends are forever altering the way we teach our children.
To start, the choices in curriculum and content are vast and more accessible than ever. Whether from a curriculum provider, a subject specialist, or created by a teacher, content is more targeted and available in a full range of formats, from full courses to single lessons, from videos to podcasts and interactive games.
Further, new standards are shaping the curriculum that is taught across the country. The goal? To help make all students more competitive in a global economy, no matter where they attend school.
The common thread throughout is the opportunity presented by online learning. Whether flipping the class or blending traditional classroom settings with online content, the benefits to students, teachers and administrators are substantial. For schools and districts, this includes the ability to diversify and expand the courses and classes that they can offer their students, and to improve student and district outcomes. For teachers, it also means that more time can be spent in and out of the classroom on higher value activities, more interaction between student and teacher, and more opportunity to put targeted, differentiated educational content in front of students.
A great example comes from a full-time online school in Lawrence School District in Kansas.
Keith Wilson, principal of the Lawrence Virtual School explains, “…a child that has been with us for about seven years … had been bullied … The family sought an alternative solution to his education … his academic success … has been phenomenal [and] he’s gearing himself up for college in two years…”
The ability to offer credit recovery and get students back up to speed is equally important, as school districts are always striving to improve graduation rates. By using online credit recovery solutions, students can focus on exactly those learning objectives necessary to get their skills up to grade level, and earn the credits they need to get back on the path to graduation.
Online credit recovery programs have been effective for Washington State’s Evergreen School District. According to Ted Feller, the district’s Executive Director of Secondary Education, “Three of our seniors who utilized [the credit recovery program] wouldn’t have graduated without [them]. We have a high school that is within the top one or two graduation rates in the whole State of Washington. And when the school board asked the principal how they got that great graduation rate, he really attested it to his… credit recovery program.”
Finally, online learning is enabling schools with tight budgets and limited resources to expand their course catalog and bring exciting learning opportunities to their students, even if they can’t afford to bring the requisite teachers on staff. These courses can include the arts, world languages, Advanced Placement and other subjects that normally would not be available to offer under tight budgets.
In Houston, the ability to offer world language online has been exceptionally well-received. “We’re able to offer a Mandarin course… with teachers that we would not have been able to hire, said Joel Smith, the eLearning facilitator for the Spring Branch Independent School District in West Houston, Texas. “And… we’re able to offer it on-demand where we may have three or four students a semester needing it and needing different levels of it—Mandarin 2, versus Mandarin 1. The ability to have on-demand access to both courses and teachers is really, really helpful for our students.”
These are just a few examples of the ground-breaking changes we are seeing in education. What we teach our children, where we teach them, and how we teach them is continuing to evolve.