We here at Education Week Digital Directions are knee-deep in a special report about e-learning, and as a reporter, one of the challenges of writing about virtual schools and online learning is the wide variety of programs out there. As a result of policies and legislation around e-learning that vary greatly from state to state, and in some cases district to district, it’s hard to pin down exactly what challenges such programs face and what exactly is going on with the field in general, since it’s different everywhere you look. As a parent looking into online learning solutions, I imagine it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of choices and programs out there.
Fortunately, the folks at the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or iNACOL, have tried to make it a little bit easier for parents to make informed decisions about e-learning with its guide, “A Parent’s Guide to Choosing the Right Online Program.” The document breaks down the different types of programs and talks a lot about how to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of each. It outlines a list of questions that parents should ask to make sure they have all the information they need to make the right educational choice for their child.
One big issue that comes into play here is accreditation, which is the process by which schools are evaluated by an outside agency to determine the quality and effectiveness of the school. Confirming accreditation by a legitimately recognized agency is key to making sure that the program’s credits will be accepted by the local school district as well as higher education institutions. You can read more about accreditation in EdWeek‘s upcoming e-learning special report.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.