nline learning has undergone a series of significant changes in recent years as it has entered the mainstream of K-12 education, concludes a new report.
The Southern Regional Education Board’s latest report about online learning examines the evolution of the region’s state-run virtual schools over the past seven years as well as examining how e-learning has grown at the district level.
Increased access to online learning, particularly at the district level, has states working to formalize their relationships with school districts to improve the delivery and quality of online courses—a trend Education Week explored in Technology Counts 2012, which focused on accountability in virtual education. This growth of virtual education at the district level is fueled largely by blended learning, an approach that mixes face-to-face instruction and online learning. Many of the companies that provide online courses now see blended learning, not full-time virtual education, as the key growth area for their companies.
At the same time, states are moving to require or encourage more K-12 students to take online courses, arguing that students need that experience to prepare to take virtual courses in college or for online training in the workplace. There are currently four SREB states—Alabama, Florida, Virginia, and West Virginia—that require students to take at least one online course to earn a high school diploma, and SREB expects that number to grow. <Read more.>