Technology Counts: Virtual Shift - E-Learning turns toward district-level approaches and a focus on accountability

March 15, 2012

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Vol. 31, Issue 25
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As e-learning moves further into the K-12 mainstream, it is attracting greater scrutiny from educators, policymakers, researchers, and the news media.
The devil is in the details when evaluating the educational effectiveness of virtual education.
As districts move in this direction, they are taking a harder look at how they will evaluate their local models of virtual education.
Multidistrict collaborations help schools save money and share best practices about online teaching and learning.
Funding models for state-sponsored virtual schools vary widely, but e-learning experts are trying to identify what works best.
The largest state-sponsored online school is held up as a model to follow, but some are questioning its effectiveness.
As online learning expands to more schools, educators and policymakers are emphasizing the importance of holding those companies accountable.
Shifts in the virtual education market are creating opportunities and challenges for companies selling online learning services.
Educators are identifying promising models for mixing online learning and face-to-face instruction that emphasize a more personalized approach to education.
Learning partly online and partly face-to-face helps students move at their own pace, but requires them to take more responsibility for learning, students say.
Measures have been passed to require online courses for graduation, to remove enrollment caps on virtual charter schools, and to create state online schools.
Speak Up, a national initiative of Project Tomorrow, surveyed students, teachers,parents, and others in fall 2010 to determine the benefits of certain types and uses of technology for teaching and learning.