A recent survey of 447 high schools and 345 school districts revealed that 50 percent of high schools in the United States currently offer online courses or are exploring future implementation of this learning technology. More than 40 percent of all public high schools are already using online courses or plan to start using them during this current school year. A curriculum for grade school children, particularly those being home-schooled, is spreading, too, but at a much slower rate.
Trend watchers assert that educators are committed to taking advantage of the benefits that distance learning offers their students. Online courses are becoming a more integral part of the high school experience. Web-based courses enable schools to deliver a broader curriculum more cost effectively, expand college preparation and advanced placement offerings, provide equal educational access, reach specialized groups of learners, and even accommodate students who haven’t succeeded in traditional high schools.
A non-profit collaborative of over 200 high schools offering full-semester, student-centered, online courses supports this growing system. Schools in 25 states and 8 countries participate in “Virtual High School,” allowing their students to select from nearly 150 accredited online courses including core, elective, advanced placement, and international baccalaureate offerings. (www.goVHS.org)
Teacher shortages, needs for more expansive curricula, especially in inadequately funded school districts, and growing internet access may stimulate further growth of online education for students from kindergarten to high school graduation. As more students take on-line courses instead of courses that are taught by teachers in-person, we may see more of a movement toward students gaining almost all their knowledge through the internet.
Students taking courses online could be virtually anywhere. Children of parents who accept overseas assignments with global companies could maintain links to schools in their home communities, providing consistency and stability in their education.
From “Herman Trend Alert,” by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists, www.hermangroup.com.