Make no mistake about it, online education is a rapidly growing trend for students at all educational levels. In the United States alone, the 2012 Survey of Online Learning revealed the total number of students taking at least one online course had surpassed 6.7 million. And for primary and secondary students, recent estimates cited by the New York Times show over one million K-12 students now taking courses online.
Growing just as rapidly is the debate over the effectiveness of an online education. Advocates regularly tout the benefits of virtual schools saying they are safer, offer more options for Advanced Placement, provide access to programs not locally available, and enable learning at a student’s own pace.
Critics argue online education is primarily driven by profit incentives and a desire to spend less on teachers and buildings in today’s shaky economic climate. They contend there is a lack of sound research showing that online K-12 education is comparable to traditional learning.
However, a four-year old research report issued by SRI International for the Department of Education largely refutes the ‘lack of research’ argument. The 93-page document—which compared online and classroom instruction from 1996 to 2008 for adult, military and K-12 learners—concluded that, “on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”
In addition, numerous experts consistently trumpet the need and value of online learning for primary and secondary students. In his February 2012 blog, “Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning,” popular educational technologist and author, Alan November—named one of the nation’s fifteen most influential thinkers of the decade by Technology and Learning Magazine—offered his belief that “every high school should require every student to take an entire course online, because that’s where higher education is going.”
“I don’t think we can make up for what goes on in the home at school, but there are some things we can do,” wrote November, regarding ongoing inequities with our society’s current educational approach. However, continues November, “We can reconfigure our business from teaching children in isolated boxes called classrooms to building capacity in the community for learning. We need to promote this type of home schooling.”
The evidence is certainly conclusive that online school is a viable education solution for many students. See if online school is the right fit for your son or daughter--click here to learn more about our free online school program for students.
Online education is growing year over year and is offering students and their families an alternative to traditional learning environments. Many students have higher rates of academic progress in online programs because they are able to work at their own pace without distractions.