According to results from a survey conducted by project tomorrow and blackboard inc the number of high school students participating in online classes has doubled since last year. Twenty-seven percent of high school students and 21 percent of middle school students reported taking an online class for school or personal reasons in 2009, up from just 14 percent and 16 percent, respectively, in 2008.
The 2009 Speak Up surveys captured views on online education and 21st century learning from more than 370,000 U.S. K-12 students, parents, educators and college students enrolled in teacher preparation programs.
A top priority for students is being in control of the learning process which is enabled through the impelmentation of an online class. The learning experience is personalized and accessible to them on demand in an online environment. “Students clearly want online learning to be a bigger part of their overall school experience,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow. “They’re eager to personalize their learning with technologies they are already comfortable with. And so far schools have not fully capitalized on this interest to create more relevant, engaging, and productive learning experiences for students.”
As student interest in online learning continues to grow, so has the number of teachers who have taught online classes – the percentage of which has tripled since 2008. Yet only 10 percent of teachers say they are currently tapping into online classes to enhance student achievement, according to the report. Further, while pre-service teachers are gaining more experience with online classes (52 percent) and online professional learning communities (38 percent) in their teacher preparation programs, just 4 percent report they are learning how to teach online classes in their instructional methods courses.
“It is exciting to see steady and continued growth in online learning for both blended and fully virtual educational models,” said Jessie Woolley-Wilson, President of Blackboard K-12. “Online learning helps district leaders achieve key goals including student engagement, parental involvement and flexible and cost-effective teacher professional development. Combined, all these goals drive student success and prepare students to thrive in a knowledge based economy. We see this compelling set of highly collaborative and instructionally relevant online tools as essential components of the most successful and innovative connected districts in the United States and abroad.”
Students reported a range of barriers to taking online classes. Over 25 percent of high school students that have not taken an online course said that classes were not offered at their school or they did not know what classes are offered. Sixteen percent said they could not afford to take an online class.
Institutional barriers are also preventing wider access, according to the report, with almost 40 percent of district administrators and 35 percent of principals reporting that their ability to offer classes online is stymied by limited state funding. In addition, 30 percent of administrators said that their teachers were not comfortable teaching online while 26 percent doubted their teachers’ ability to effectively use tools for online classes, suggesting a need to provide educators with more training and additional support in online instruction.
“Learning will become an around the clock opportunity with students logging into school from home,” said a Michigan principal who participated in the survey. “The role of the teacher will be to lead and assist students in discovering the uses for the technology and information. Every student from Pre-K through 12th grade will have access to learning through the most advanced IT devices available and learning will occur online at least 80 percent of the time.”
The report is available online at www.blackboard.com/k12/education21c.
Sources: PR Newswire/Blackboard Inc