May 9, 2002

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Vol. 21, Issue 35
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To appreciate how e-learning is changing the landscape of education, you need only look at the numbers.
Twelve states now have their own virtual education institutions— state-sponsored schools that provide some or all of their instruction over the Internet, according to Education Week’s 2002 survey of state technology coordinators. Much has been made of the potential of these so-called cyber schools to redefine how we think about teaching and learning in the digital age. At the same time, though, concerns abound about the consequences of an educational style that forgoes face-to-face contact and personal interaction in favor of the potentially isolating world of cyberspace.
There’s not much time to hit the books after work, PTA meetings, and rushing your 9-year-old son to karate lessons. So when Adrienne Carrington, a soft-spoken, 45-year-old single mother from Baltimore, decided to go back and take some more college classes, she needed a university that could accommodate her harried lifestyle.
Becky Huggins sometimes goes undercover in the online classes she teaches for elementary school youngsters. When discussions among her students go stale, she logs on under a pseudonym—taking on the identity of a student—and fires off a provocative question or comment to jump-start the dialogue.
In the spring of 2000, Carol Scott Whelan and four of her colleagues at the state department of education in Louisiana decided to take a course called Introduction to Online Technology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
South Dakota, a rural state known to outsiders mostly as the site of Mount Rushmore, is one of the most wired in the country. New technology such as Maher’s interactive- videoconference class—an updated twist on old-school distance learning—is erasing boundaries and opening new avenues of learning for the state’s 729 public schools, 78 private schools, and 15 colleges and universities.
Despite fiscal belt-tightening and the recent decline in the technology sector of the U.S. economy, states still made great strides over the past year in helping students get access to computers in schools.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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