The report suggests that K-12 students want to pursue online learning to gain more control of their own learning experience, have access to more courses, and work at their own pace. But middle and high school students continue to have different priorities for taking online classes, the report says: Older students were most likely to desire online classes to earn college credit, while younger students would pursue online learning to get extra help in a subject.

When asked why learning through an online class might make school more interesting, 47 percent of nine through 12th graders, 39 percent of six through eighth graders, and one in four third through fifth graders said they want to learn online to “be in control of my learning.” Students don’t expect courses to be easier online, but they do expect the online format to make it easier for them to succeed, because they can review materials when they want and are more comfortable asking teachers for help.

When asked, “What is the one thing that you would do to improve schools to ensure that all students had the skills they needed to be successful in life,” a 10th-grade student from Alcoa High School in Tennessee responded, “I would provide personal laptops for each student and provide online classes. Every school does not have all the classes a student is interested in, and online classes [provide] another option.”

Project Tomorrow and Blackboard released their report June 30 at the 2009 National Educational Computing Conference in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with a panel discussion about online learning.

Panelists included Maribeth Luftglas, chief technology officer for Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools, and Rod Carnill, technology resource specialist for Virginia’s Frederick County Public Schools.

When asked what advice she would give to school leaders about starting online-learning programs in their own schools, Luftglas said support is key, adding: “Don’t even try online learning if you don’t have the infrastructure, support, and training in place” to sustain it.

Links:

Project Tomorrow

Blackboard Inc.

“Learning in the 21st Century: 2009 Trends Update”


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