More and more school districts and states are turning to online education, or E-learning, as a way to combat budget cuts for this school year. Florida is amongst one of the states that has long been saving money through their year-round virtual school, Florida Virtual School (FLVS).
Online education for both grade school and secondary education is a great alternative to traditional classroom education. Whether students want to take an extra course in order to graduate earlier or need to catch-up from failed or missed courses. Some parents have also completely abolished traditional classroom education in favor of an online medium.
Online education is frugal because districts do not have to pay for food, busing, building maintenance and staff, furniture or supplies. Making it a really appealing option with the current state of the economy and declining school budget.
This form of distance education is outcome-based rather than based on time actually spent in the class room. It is a significant difference from the traditional brick-and-mortar model. It is not a learning medium for every student, however, some find it easier than traditional classroom learning. It has taken a significant amount of time for the classroom to catch up on technology and with the current state of the economy most schools are not able to purchase the right technology for their students. At the same time, personal computers can be found in more homes and young people are becoming more accustomed to using them on a daily basis. More often than not, students can be put through the exact same educational requirements as traditional classroom learning. Students can easily access suggested reading, audio and video material as well as interactive educational tests, quizzes and final assignments
Online colleges have been the benchmark for online learning. Universities were amongst the first schools to offer online learning. They have become the industry experts and have adapted to all the newest technology. College students can often find their professors lectures online via video or podcasts. Now, at least 85% of college students use online learning for at least one of their classes. Even students that attend traditional classroom lectures do more of their work online and can submit assignments via the internet. Making the material available outside of the classroom so students can access it at any time is a great way to reinforce the topic.
A recent report done on online education by SRI International for the Education Department concluded: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”
While online learning is a great alternative to classroom learning it doesn’t come without a price. The software for online learning can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year plus licensing and support. Time is spent to develop and modify software so that it fits perfectly with the needs for any particular online classroom. Teachers and students also have to be trained to use it.
Technology is growing at an increasing rate and schools are learning to adapt that technology in new ways to create better learning communities and mediums for students.