According to the National Center for Education, there were 6.1 million students who took an online class in 2010. Since that time, the number has continued to climb. With this continual increase in online learning, traditional brick and mortar schools must reconsider how they serve students. More than just an instructional strategy, the shift to online education is complex.
1. Implementation - the switch to online learning is more than just putting lessons online, it requires professional development and a change in how educators teach their students. Institutions that are planning to provide online learning opportunities must have a complete implementation plan in place before the first change is introduced.
2. Bandwidth - with the 21st century classroom comes a higher demand on the wireless network. Connected students and teachers often have multiple devices connected to the internet and institutions must make complex and costly changes to the infrastructure that supports this connectivity.
3. Differentiated instruction using real-time data - one of the major benefits to blended and online learning methods is the potential for true differentiation - providing individualized instruction. The best way to accomplish this is through analysis of real-time data, which is readily available to teachers because of technology.
4. Career and Technical Education (CTE) for everyone - until recently, CTE courses were most commonly found in schools with a focus on training students for the job market. As schools try to shift focus from college preparation to individualized career paths which may or may not include college, districts are adding more CTE courses to their offerings.
5. Competency placement, rather than age-based grouping - technology also brings with it an ability to assess and deliver the instruction each student needs when they need it. Some students may be able to complete their education quicker than others. Some may need more time. Edgenuity predicts that age grouping will become more and more archaic.
6. Ed tech goes mainstream - as the growing pains associated with the introduction of technology in classrooms begins to subside, resistance will decrease. Students in high school classrooms today have never lived without the internet and personal computing. The things that engage and activate interest in students today often rely on technology. Teachers and schools will look to ed tech to fill that need.