Leveling the Playing Field in K-12 Classrooms
Learning Tools Although typically associated with college or adult courses, online education is getting high grades in K-12 classrooms across the country.
A blended approach of merging face-to-face instruction with online classes has been successful in achieving personalized instruction while preparing students for future success. No longer on the fringe, it’s estimated two-thirds of the country’s school districts offer a blended online learning programs.
“Online gives [all] teachers and students access to content. It levels the playing field,” explains Allison Powell, vice president for state and district services for the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), a non-profit organization.
Online education for K-12 is trending upward because it offers a more personalized approach, allowing students to surge ahead in areas where they excel or receive more instruction where they struggle.
“America has been lagging in education for some time and that has a profound impact on skills for careers in the long-term,” explains Michael Horn, executive director of education for the Clayton Christensen Institute, a non-profit think tank.
According to Horn, there’s less boredom, fewer failures and a reduced dropout rate by melding technology and personal instruction because students “take control of their own path.”
Quelling any fears that computers are taking over the classroom, Powell says it is the opposite—technology paves the way for the human touch. “It empowers the teacher to be a teacher and do what they signed up to do,” she says. Ideally, experts say, kids don’t spend the entire time in front of a screen; rather they rotate from online sessions to traditional class time.
Hardware costs can be recouped quickly and offset by the need for fewer textbooks and other reduced costs. Horn adds the declining price of electronics could even result in a “bring your own device policy,” with devices being the “Trapper Keepers of the 21st century.”
Success is not just verified by test scores but in better-prepared students for future education and careers. “As adults we all have to go through some type of online training,” says Powell.