Schools across the nation have prepared for months for the possibility that the H1N1 flu virus will hit their student population, causing student and staff absences or even quarantines. Forward-looking districts are planning now to ensure learning continuity not only for this potential pandemic, but for future extended student absences.
In conversations with our K-12 clients, we often learn about new ways that districts are using online learning to solve age-old issues. During the past year, we heard about several clients using online credit recovery programs to increase graduation rates.
Students on the verge of dropping out often need a flexible way to make up for classes they failed the first time around.On average, only 70 percent of students in K-12 schools and districts earn a high-school diploma. Often called the “silent epidemic” in high schools, high dropout rates put students’ futures at risk and pose challenges to our nation’s economic and social well being. Programs including online or hybrid courses are rapidly gaining acceptance as a credit recovery method, with innovative delivery options that enable students to work at their own pace and engage them in a new kind of learning.
In the Blackboard K-12 group, we’ve noticed a growing trend: teachers are using Blackboard solutions as an instructional tool to positively impact curriculum planning and student engagement in and out of the classroom. As we plan for BbWorld ’09, we want to support our client institutions to continue on the path of providing 21st century learning experiences that are both personalized and connected.
This week the Blackboard K-12 team and Project Tomorrow hosted a web presentation to discuss new trends in online learning. The event included a panel of online learning practitioners who gave first-hand perspectives on data presented in a recently-released report: "Learning in the 21st Century: A Trends Update."
During the event, which was attended by nearly 100 people, we learned about student and teacher perceptions of, and experiences with, online learning. Some of the data might surprise you. For instance, the majority of middle school students want to take an online course to get extra help and to learn more about a certain subject.
We also gained valuable insight from Janet Herdman (North Kansas City Schools) and Cheryl Rowley (Cobb County School District), our online learning practitioners, who have years of experience implementing online learning, from offering totally virtual student courses to providing enhanced professional development for teachers.
If you’re interested in listening to the web session, please click here. Feel free to pass the recording along to your colleagues! Also, I encourage you to download "Learning in the 21st Century: A Trends Update" from our main Blackboard K-12 site here.
We are currently recruiting for participation in Speak Up 2008. Visit the Project Tomorrow website for more information on how you can participate to make the 2008 survey bigger and better.
Stay tuned here for our newest, upcoming report, "Leadership in the 21st Century: The New Visionary Administrator." I’ll let you know when it’s released.