Cyber schools, online teaching and testing, and other e-learning initiatives are emerging quickly across the country, changing traditional notions of how K- 12 education is provided, an Education Week report released last week concludes.
Already, 12 states have established online high school programs, and five others are developing them; 25 states allow for the creation of so-called cyber charter schools; and 32 states have e-learning initiatives under way, according to Technology Counts 2002: E-Defining Education. The report is the fifth edition of the newspaper’s annual 50-state examination of educational technology.
“E-learning is poking holes in the walls of the traditional American classroom and giving students unprecedented access to challenging courses and academic material,” said Virginia B. Edwards, the editor and publisher of Education Week. “But there are still problems and unanswered questions about this way of teaching and learning. And one of the chief concerns is ensuring the quality of online courses.”
Beyond that concern, the report addresses a list of other issues that must be resolved: Are online courses aligned appropriately with state academic standards? Who is responsible for students’ technological needs when they are taking online courses? Are online teachers trained effectively to teach via the Internet? And what is lost when students and teachers forgo face-to-face interaction?
In an effort to look at e-learning from the perspective of students, the authors of Technology Counts 2002 received access to student course evaluations from the Florida Virtual School, the nation’s most prominent state-sponsored online school. Among other findings, the course evaluations show that 68 percent of the virtual school students say their online courses are at least as hard as, or harder than, regular high school courses.
The report also continues to track the latest trends in computer access, training, and use by teachers and students.
A version of this article appeared in the May 15, 2002 edition of Education Week as Report Says E-Learning Redefining K-12 Education