Sunday, August 15, 2021

 

Covid may have been the tipping point for online K-12 education

 

Before Covid, there were plenty of families who “home-schooled” their K-12 children via online courses.  One of my son’s friends did all four years of high school on a boat sailing around the world with his parents.  Many religious families chose to exert greater control over curriculum content by teaching their children themselves, often using online curricula to do so.  Families living in remote areas (think ranches in the western US or in the outback of Australia) had few other choices than what was called “correspondence courses” pre-internet.

 

With the significant reliance on virtual schooling during Covid, a far greater part of the general population has been exposed to the opportunities online learning can offer.  As a result, many more families want to have permanent online opportunities available, and some school districts are accommodating that interest. 


A recent CNN article gives a good analysis of why this trend is occurring, along with some examples of options for online K-12 education available in Colorado.  For some families, the interest in online options is rooted in continued concern about Covid exposure risk.  Others have found that online education meets their child’s emotional needs and learning style better than in-class formats.  The appeal of virtual school, or hybrid online school with in-person extracurricular activities, will only grow as educators refine their curricula and teaching methods to enhance the learning via online methods.

 

Some jurisdictions are creating new online schools to meet the need.  The CNN article describes the Spark Online Academy, a K-8 virtual school currently available in school district 11, but shortly opening up to any student living in Colorado.  Other jurisdictions are deciding to continue offering an online option as an alternative for children who don’t want to restart in-person classes.  My home town is offering Salt Lake Virtual Elementary for K-6 students.  While this appears to be a temporary offering while Covid remains a threat, it may become permanent if demand continues, since the infrastructure will already be in place.

 

The CNN article emphasizes that online learning is not ideal for every K-12 student.  But, thanks to our experiences over the past 18 months with Covid restrictions, many students will now have a real choice between in-person and virtual learning … depending on which option suits their situation best.

Written by Michele Straube 

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