The current state of digital learning seems to be one of growth and expansion. More students and schools are accessing online courses which is offering a wider variety of options for courses for students within a public school setting as well as in private or homeschool situations. The growth also seems to bring with it some complicated layers as there are more suppliers to consider, state laws to follow, and technology advancements to keep up with. An area of impact on online learning I had not considered was teacher licensure requirements. It can be very time consuming and expensive for teachers to obtain licensure in multiple states in order to teach online courses. This limits teachers to teach only in the state that they have licensure in, which could impact the availability of courses to students if they do not have qualified teachers to teach the course.
Since I do not have a classroom, the resources I found most useful were how digital learning opportunities could help those students in homebound situations or those in need of credit recovery. The options for AP courses or specialty courses not available in my school are also of interest since I want to know all that is available for my students and I provide academic counseling services in the form of scheduling and future planning. On the iNACOL website there were several links under their Promising Practices resources tab that discussed credit recovery and blended learning environments.
Some things I did not find within these two sources was information on the resources needed for these personalized learning environments. They sound great in theory, but where is the money coming from to pay for these online classes and to pay for the teachers to monitor them? I also have some concerns in this area with credit recovery. It is a wonderful option for that self-motivated student who can work independently. But, usually “self-motivated” and “independent” are not traits we find in our students that require credit recovery. In order to use online courses for credit recovery, I think we could benefit from an online period during the school day where a teacher can be monitoring and offering assistance to make sure the student progress through the courses in a timely fashion.
In addition to these questions, I am also wondering if online learning, at least at the high school level, has plateaued in its growth. A traditional school setting is what the majority of students require to be successful. In addition to the academics, classroom teachers are teaching students organization, responsibility, teamwork, leadership, I could go on and on listing skills our students need to be productive adults. They cannot obtain these through strictly online interactions. In addition to teaching these skills, classroom teachers model them and use incorporate so many teaching strategies that could not be replicated in an online setting. However, for college level work, I see online learning continuing to grow. More and more students will want to access online learning to supplement their college experience or to replace the traditional college experience all together. This would allow them to work more and with college becoming more and more expensive, finances are a huge concern for students. I also think it would allow them to access more programs and coursework if they are not bound geographically.
I read the blog post: Time Matters: How We Use Flexible Time to Design Higher and Deeper Learning. I chose this one because of the tags “practice” and “accountability” and because the intro reminded me of a discussion I had with a student recently about using time efficiently. The blog discusses the need for more long-term projects and assignments because learning on a deeper level takes more time to accomplish. In my job, I am trying to help students learn the skills necessary to be successful learners throughout high school and as they enter higher education and/or the working world. It is my goal, along with all educators, to send them out of our building equipped with life skills so that they may be productive citizens. So, the long-term project I am focused on is the development of study skills, organization, and effective test-taking strategies. This gets a little tricky, because success here could look different for various students. Some students enjoy list making and paper calendars, some students prefer electronic alerts and using their devices to keep track of due dates. My plan with my hybrid module is to offer various strategies and give them opportunities to use these (hopefully experience success with them) and thus improve their communication skills and their confidence in their academic abilities. Goodness, what a lofty goal. 🙂