A New World for Online Ed

Education Week is reporting on a new study that nearly two-thirds of public school administrators surveyed said they are offering some form of online education. Fascinating study, and even more interesting implications for how we talk about successful education reform.

High school doesn’t have the capacity to increase the number of AP courses? Access them online. Limited interest in foreign languages like Chinese or Arabic? Learn through the computer. Unable to build a sustainable early college program in your community? Dial in a reputable two-year or four-year college. And let’s not even talk the possibilities for home schoolers or charter schools.

The unanswered question is how did the 63% of those surveyed by the Sloan Foundation get buy in from their local teachers? How do you convince a licensed, veteran teacher to ultimately play the role of facilitator, as the instruction is handled by an image on a computer screen or on a DVD?

If access to online learning is to continue to grow in our public schools, we need to demonstrate to all stakeholders — especially teachers — that there is value to them. If the study is right, and 19% of all students will soon be taking all of their classes online, teachers will need to be under the online ed tent. Growth and success are one thing. Buy-in from the teachers is essential to successfully implementing classroom change.

(Originally posted March 6, 2007)

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