The Expansion of Online Learning
As computer skills become necessary for an increasing number of careers, online learning has skyrocketed in popularity. Demand has increased among high school students who plan to enter the workforce immediately after graduation, as well as among those who are bound for college. Some traditional high schools are even making online courses part of their graduation requirements. With this growing trend, is it any surprise that enrollment in full-time virtual schools is also booming?
According to Keeping Pace with K–12 Online and Blended Learning 2012, published by the Evergreen Education Group, the number of students enrolled in full-time online public schools increased from just 50,000 students in the 2006–2007 school year to 275,000 students in 2012. During the same time period, enrollment at Connections Academy schools has increased by 390 percent, proving that virtual learning is here to stay!
The idea of virtual school has spread geographically, too. In 2007, only 18 states offered multidistrict online schools, but now these are available to students in 31 states. Likewise, the number of Connections Academy locations has doubled, with online public schools available in nearly half of all states now, including the most recent additions in New Mexico and Iowa, plus an online high school, Great Lakes Cyber Academy, in Michigan.
As this schooling method continues to become more widely available, parents have begun to realize that online school is a great way to educate today’s computer-savvy kids. Students not only sharpen computer skills as they learn, but they also gain other skills that are valuable in college and the workforce, such as self-discipline and time management.
Additionally, learning by using the computer is actually a method many kids prefer. This not only makes the transition to online education easy, it also enhances the likelihood that students will become actively involved in learning. Even more exciting is the fact that students are interested! A recent study reported that 47 percent of students in middle school and 45 percent in high school wanted to take online courses, but had not yet done so.
Of course, full-time virtual school isn’t right for every student. Some kids prefer a traditional classroom setting or enjoy having more frequent social interaction with their peers. That’s why we’ve developed new Nexus Academy schools, which provide a mix of online and face-to-face learning. These “blended learning” schools are available in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, and they will continue to expand to other areas.
Whether in elementary, middle, or high school, children are sure to see the trend of online learning continue to evolve. With new technology and expanded offerings, the kids of today will have many options for becoming the computer-savvy adults of tomorrow.
Why did you begin exploring the idea of online school? Share your experiences and reasons in the comments below, and also let us know if you have any questions.