Chapter 6 – Online Learning

Online learning is defined as “Education that uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously” (IPEDS, 2012). Distance learning, or eLearning became the top 2020 educational technology trend overnight because of the rapid spread of COVID-19 and school closures.

In the online environment, learning can happen synchronously and asynchronously.

  •  Synchronous – in real-time
  • Asynchronous – recorded

 

The number of K-12 students enrolled in fully online courses is growing rapidly all across the nation. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a rise in popularity of online learning. Online learning is traditionally related to the higher education setting; however, online learning options exist for the K-12 settings as well. According to National School Choice Week, In 2018-2019, approximately 375,000 students in the U.S. attended an online school full time (2021). Education Week (edweek.org) updated the article, Education Statistics: Facts About American Schools in July of 2021 and answers questions such as:

  • How many K-12 public schools, districts, and students are there?
  • What does the American student population look like?
  • And how much are we, as a nation, spending on the education of these youth?

 

Different types of online learning exist. A student might choose supplemental online learning. This option is common for a student enrolled full time at a brick and mortar school but is taking an online course to supplement a class their school does not offer. Another example is to take a class for college credit. Blended online learning is when a physical location, and an instructor, for the virtual school exist; however, the student completes the coursework online and is not required to be present at the physical location. Fully online is an online school that is completely online. These are offered across districts in 32 states in the U.S. Students who typically opt for the fully online virtual learning option typically have a reason that they cannot attend a physical school. A few options might include health reasons, a professional athlete, family reasons, or advanced or delayed learning. Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is the reason for some students, a fully online education is chosen.

The usage of online learning will test both the educator and the learners. According to the Journal of Educational Technology Systems, “It will enhance problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and adaptability among the students. Online learning faces many challenges ranging from learners’ issues, educators’ issues, and content issues. Opportunities and trials exist with online learning and the quality of the program is a real challenge” (Dhawan, 2020).

As the instructor of online learning, one must understand and implement best practices. The value of segmenting educational content has long been recognized in the literature on distance education and e-learning (Méndez-Carbajo. & Wolla, 2019)

An important factor with online learning is the proper device. The following chapter will go into more depth about specific devices. Mobile learning, or m-learning, is considered an extension of distance learning. Mobile learning is the use of a mobile device to consume course materials like assigned readings, video lectures, or create assignments or discussions.

It is important to consider all the factors when making the decision to choose online learning. Not all online learning is considered equal and no student is the same. Online learning should be evaluated from all perspectives. U.S. News & World Report gives examples of quality questions to aid making an informed decision. In addition, National School Choice Week is a not-for-profit effort to raise awareness of effective K-12 education options for children and published The Ultimate Guide to Online School. The website answers the common question, “How does online school work?”

 

According to the Digital Learning Collaborative, five states in the United States require students to complete an online course to graduate (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, and Virginia) (2018).

 

Online schools in the state of kansas

Included in this section is a list of online schools in the state of Kansas.

  • Stride K12 – A Nationwide company providing curriculum for K-12 students. In their video, What to Expect with Online School, they provide a glimpse into the online learning experience.

  • Maize Virtual Preparatory School K-12 – Based in Maize, Kansas, students from across the state have the opportunity to participate in a virtual online school partnership.
  • Andover eCademy – Offers virtual and blended educational opportunities through a fully accredited curriculum that is supported by our on-site Kansas certified teachers.
  • Lawrence Virtual School – The premier virtual school in Kansas since 2004.

 

Exercises

Now that you have read the chapter, consider the following questions:

  • Do you think every state should require students to complete an online course prior to high school graduation? Why or why not? Did you have experience taking online classes before graduating from high school?
  • What did you learn most from the readings? Name two takeaways.
  • How has COVID-19 impacted online learning? Discuss the positive and negative.

Bibliography

Dhawan, S. (2020). Online learning: A panacea in the time of covid-19 crisis. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 49(1), 5-22. doi:10.1177/0047239520934018.

Méndez-Carbajo, D. and Wolla, S.A. (2019). Segmenting educational content: long-form vs. short-form online learning modules. American Journal of Distance Education, 33(2), 108-119. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/08923647.2019.1583514.

Musinski, B. (2020, August 27). What to know about K-12 online schools. U.S. News & World Report. https://www.usnews.com/education/k-12-online-schools-guide

Online learning graduation requirements — Digital Learning Collaborative. (2018, September 25). Digital Learning Collaborative. https://www.digitallearningcollab.com/online-learning-graduation-requirements

Riser-Kositsky, M. (2019, January 3). Education statistics: Facts about American schools. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/leadership/education-statistics-facts-about-american-schools/2019/01

Stearns, S. G. and C. (2014). Web Tables—Enrollment in Distance Education Courses, by State: Fall 2012. National Center for Education Statistics.

The Ultimate Guide to Online School – How does online school work? (2021, March 2). National School Choice Week. https://schoolchoiceweek.com/guide-to-online-school/

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