Published: March 29, 2007
Virtual learning, barely a blip on the computer screen a decade ago, is fast becoming part of the educational mainstream. And much as in other areas of technological innovation, the rapid pace of change has left policymakers scrambling to catch up with the virtual reality.
From state-led programs to cyber charters and district-run online schools, virtual schooling poses policy questions ranging from funding to quality. Online learning is also prodding states to re-examine requirements that may not fit well with virtual environments, such as measuring student “seat time” in classrooms.
The Colorado legislature is expected to tighten the reins on online learning, for example, following a state audit that found oversight wanting. Kansas officials are also conducting an audit of that state’s online schools. Washington state recently issued new guidelines for its “alternative learning environment” programs, which include virtual schools. And Florida has totally revamped how it pays for...