Guest post by Julie Evans, CEO, Project Tomorrow

  • Did you know that 30% of high school students now say that they have had some kind of online learning experience in school, be it either in a virtual class, a blended class or a self-directed online class?
  • Did you know that over 1/3 of teachers would like their districts to provide more online professional development courses?
  • Did you know that almost twice as many administrators in 2010 are providing blended learning opportunities for students as in 2009?

These are just some of the latest Speak Up national findings on online learning that were shared at Blackboard’s “Getting Started with Online Learning” workshop held in Orlando in conjunction with FETC 2011.  This workshop focused on helping school and district administrators who were either exploring online learning for the first time or interested in expanding their current online platforms to students or teachers.  And the approach provided a special opportunity for the administrators to actively examine their own online learning priorities against the backdrop of research data and practical advice from online learning practitioners.

Let’s take a closer look at the Speak Up data results – like our workshop participants, these findings may resonate with your own local experiences, and hopefully, they will help you prioritize your online learning needs.  Which approach to online learning will yield the greatest ROI for you today – teacher professional development, blended learning or course expansion?

  • The Speak Up national findings have documented for several years the increased demand that students have for online learning.  Students say that the real value of online courses is increased productivity as well as the opportunity to personalize the learning process. 45 percent of middle school students say that a major benefit of online learning is that it puts them in control of their own learning – and for today’s “Free Agent Learners” that is a new essential component of 21st century education.
  • Teachers are buying into online courses for professional development with the same strong value proposition as students – increased productivity as well as enhanced personalization.  In fact, 26% of teachers now tell us through the Speak Up surveys that online courses are their preferred method for professional development.  And 40% say that they wish that their districts would provide online courses as part of a professional learning community.
  • And while for most districts, the primary audience for online classes is teachers, administrators are increasingly tapping into online learning to address a wider range of needs within their district. Specific to students, the Speak Up data points to five key administrative priorities for online learning today:  student engagement, increased graduation rates, academic remediation, course expansion and credit recovery.

The “Getting Started with Online Learning Workshop” provided a new framework for developing an effective district plan for online learning:  marrying data on stakeholder values and aspirations with real world, first hand experiences from administrative peers. Hope you can join us at a future workshop!

Guest blog by Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow.  Project Tomorrow, a national education nonprofit organization, facilitates the annual Speak Up National Research Project.  Project Tomorrow produced the recent “Getting Started” workshop in conjunction with Blackboard.  Learn more about Project Tomorrow and the Speak Up data results at www.tomorrow.org.

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  • http://www.university-bound.com/ Sarah

    It’s so great to see more and more school districts embrace studies online, not just for the student but also as learning opportunities for teachers! This valuable educational tool is only going to become more popular and easy to access.