Friday, July 1, 2011

Demand for online learning increases

In just three years, the number of high school students who have access to online learning has tripled, while twice as many middle school students are now learning online, according to a new report.

These figures come from the nonprofit group Project Tomorrow and its most recent Speak Up survey on first released data from its this survey earlier this spring, but the organization has teamed up with learning management system provider Blackboard Inc. to dig deeper into the results that pertain to online learning.

Project Tomorrow and Blackboard issued a report on these findings during the International Society for Technology in Education’s annual conference June 28.

More than 40 percent of students now designate online classes as an essential component of their learning experience, with administrators and parents also becoming more supportive of this vision, the report says. In two years’ time, 39 percent more administrators and five times as many parents have incorporated online classes into their vision for the ultimate school.

While support for online learning has grown, so, too, has the untapped student demand for online learning as part of their ultimate school. One-third of middle and high school students say they are interested in taking an online course but have not yet, and 30 percent of third through fifth grade students say they’d like to take an online course, according to the survey.

“Online learning is transformative. We are just starting to see a generation rising through middle schools that demand online learning and have a clear insight into how it can change the future of education,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow. “These students are moving online learning beyond the basic learning paradigm and taking ownership in their learning process—creating an engaging, personalized, and collaborative learning environment.”

The online-learning report is called “Learning in the 21st Century: 2011 Trends Update.” It’s based on results from the 2010 Speak Up survey, which captured the views about online education and 21st-century learning of more than 379,000 K-12 students, parents, educators, and college students enrolled in teacher preparation programs in the United States.

“Online learning will continue to impact student motivation for learning,” said a Delaware County, Pa., administrator who participated in the study. “I believe collaboration tools will have the greatest impact on

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