It’s no secret that the modern American child is adept on all things electronic. Educators finally seem to be tapping into this, with promising results. The KIPP Empower Academy in Los Angeles has successfully implemented an online learning program for their kindergartners and 1st graders! In other recent news, according to the 2011 Keeping Pace Report, an annual review of K-12 online learning growth, policy, and practice released just last week, online learning is evolving even more rapidly than predicted for all age groups and is expanding in new and surprising ways. According to the Keeping Pace Report, there are now 30 states with full-time, multi-district online programs that enrolled approximately 250,000 students in the 2010 – 2011 school year. That is an increase of 25 percent since the previous year! The report also concludes that virtual school initiatives have remained fairly stagnant, largely due to decreased state funding, but both single- district programs and consortiums are expanding quickly. At least 50 percent of all districts across the country have at least one student taking an online course. That number continues to grow as districts build on small programs to create more comprehensive online offerings.
It’s easy to understand why the residents of Florida consider themselves “out on their own” geographically. Expansive, forbidding swamps and miles of coastline probably have something to do with that. This geographical isolation might be why officials have embraced technology to strengthen connections and interactions among a dispersed group of students. Florida has recently implemented a new law that requires every high school student to take at least one course online in order to graduate. Alabama and Michigan have adopted similar rules, and the state of Idaho is currently considering comparable obligations
Budget cuts to K-12 education could reach up to $2.5 billion this year according to estimates by the National Association of State Budget Officers. Twenty-two states have slashed K-12 funding, which has led to increased class sizes, fewer tutoring programs, fewer days in the school year, fewer high school counselors, fewer college prep opportunities, and fewer teacher development resources. Although this may paint a grim picture of K-12 education in the United States, many schools have found innovative ways to reduce costs using education technology: