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Online Learning in Illinois High Schools: Has the Time Come?
Online education is increasingly being embraced by Illinois high schools, according to the first ever, in-depth, state-wide study of the role of online education. Using data collected from over 200 Illinois high school principals, the study found that administrators see online learning as meeting the diverse needs of their students whether through
- advanced placement,
- elective college courses, or
- credit recovery.
The major reason cited for online and blended offerings is to provide courses that otherwise would not be available.
The study coauthor Anthony G. Picciano of The Graduate Center and Hunter College at City University of New York noted the unique nature of this study: “It was a pleasure working with the Illinois Principals Association on the first study of the extent and nature of online learning in the state’s high schools.”
Dr. Picciano noted the important role online courses have for urban schools: “Of particular interest is the rise of online credit-recovery programs in urban schools for students needing to make-up coursework in order to graduate.” He also noted how online education is also of critical importance among the smaller and rural schools, but for very different reasons: “Also of interest are the cost-beneficial ways that rural schools are embracing online learning to expand course offerings for their students.”
Concerns that online learning is not as effective as face-to-face instruction remain, yet high school administrators see benefits to online learning programs that overshadow concerns about pedagogical value.
Other key findings include:
- Credit recovery (for students to make up courses that they did not complete) is the most popular type of online course being offered among Illinois high schools.
- Urban high schools, which historically have the lowest graduation rates, are embracing online credit recovery as a basic part of their academic offerings.
- High school administrators consider online elective college-level courses as an effective means for the more able students to begin their college careers.
- Rural schools are in the vanguard in offering online and blended learning programs to their students—using online courses to overcome significant problems in funding, teacher certification, and small enrollments.
Included as a chapter in Exploring the Effectiveness of Online Education in K-12 Environments, edited by Tina L. Heafner, Richard Hartshorne and Teresa Petty (http://www.igi-global.com/book/exploring-effectiveness-online-education-environments/105957).
Using data collected from a national sample of over 400 high school principals, the study Class Connections: High School Reform and the Role of Online Learning (pdf) found that these administrators see online learning as meeting the diverse needs of their students whether through advanced placement, elective college courses, or credit recovery. The major reason cited for online and blended offerings is to provide courses that otherwise would not be available.
Concerns that online learning is not as effective as face-to-face instruction remain, yet high school administrators see benefits to online learning programs that overshadow concerns about pedagogical value-the vast majority of their schools are moving forward with their programs and looking to expand them in the future.
The purpose of K–12 Online Learning: A 2008 follow-up of the Survey of U.S. School District Administrators (pdf) is to replicate the 2005–2006 study in order to substantiate its findings and to examine what, if any, changes occurred in online learning in K–12 school districts.
K–12 Online Learning: A Survey of U.S. School District Administrators (pdf) reports that almost two-thirds of the responding public school districts are offering online courses; over the next two years districts predict online enrollments will increase by 19% and blended enrollments by 23%.