Gordon Freedman, VP of Education Strategy writes,

A report on the state of K12 eLearning in California was released today by the University of California and an Ad Hoc group of the California Department of Education.  Because online learning is pervasive, but not officially sanctioned in California and many other states, the report calls on policymakers to modernize education regulation. This is the suggestion of the Federal government so that the benefits of online learning can be used to help students achieve school success and college admission.

Today, University of California College Prep Director Moises Torres gathered school officials, education agency staffers, and university officers to an event in Sacramento that might just be the spark to ignite online learning on a broader scale in California.  UCCP and an ad hoc group of staff from the California Department of Education (CDE), decided to do two things:

  • survey online learning in the State of California and
  • provide a set of standard definitions for the state, parents, and the country on what, exactly, online learning is.

The study shows that online learning, for both students and teachers, is a commonly accepted fixture throughout the state and the nation.  None of this sounds strange to an adult working in an office or home office environment.  Yet acceptance for putting California’s students on an equal learning footing with other major electoral college states still appears a ways off.  Sadly, online learning has yet to show up on the Governor Schwarzenegger agenda as one of the catapults to boost California’s 21st Century agenda.   

This report issues a challenge to the Golden State to grab the reigns and provide leadership in online education as a beacon for the rest of the country.  All the resources are here to do just that.  A top university system is involved, leading school districts are already on board, and charter for-profit and non-profit operators are graduating students using online technology alongside the physical classroom. 

The Takeaways from the “State of eLearning” Report

  1. California K-12 Should Get in the Fast Lane: — The report states that it is an opportunity for California officials to take a hard look at this new and largely proven modern educational resource and come to terms with how it might help rather than complicate the state of education for California’s challenged, diverse and dispersed student and teacher body. 
  2. California Should be the State to Do the Research: The report argues for an investment by California in wider and deeper research on the subject of technology assisted learning and the creation of a permanent e-learning council.  These efforts will spur the advancement of online learning in the context of California’s educational challenges and opportunities for student learners and life long learners, from pre-K to grey. 
  3. California Should Go Where Its Students Are: More and more students expect 21st century learning modes — through laptops, iPods, PDAs, and cell phones. The report argues that online learning is likely to become an ever more compelling delivery system for instruction.  The sooner the state comes to grips with that and plans to take advantage of it the better outcomes we can expect.  The image of a state synonymous with high technology and mass entertainment bringing up the rear in the education use of technology does not make sense.  California, by all counts, should be the leader.   

Gordon Freedman is Vice President Education Strategy, Blackboard Inc.  Freedman is a long-time California resident, charter school co-founder and district technology advisor.

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