05 August 2008

WaPo Reports Online Learning on the Rise

All in all, this is not a very interesting article. But I post on it because . . . because sometimes we post on things that bore us. It is a glimpse into my work these days, although I am buried behind the scenes and, when I do my job well, nobody notices. (Such is the seamlessness to which I aspire in the text I edit.)

This statement caught my eye, though:

The number of times students enrolled in distance education courses connected with public schools (using Internet, two-way video or other technologies) rose from about 317,000 in 2002-03 to more than 506,000 in 2004-05, the National Center for Education Statistics reported in June. That's a 60 percent increase. In at least 66 percent of the cases, the report says, students earned credit with a passing grade.
60% growth in two years is a pretty good indicator that, all things being equal, I might just have some job security. And that study is incredibly outdated, when you consider recent trends in online access and resource availability. I'd be curious to know what the 2004-05 to 2006-07 numbers reflect. My guess, and this is purely speculative, as Internet applications continue to boom and school districts continue to flail to accommodate their charges, is that those numbers continue to rise.

66% passing, on the other hand? That's darn near failing, if I recall correctly from my own public school days (and I believe I saw that number--or its alphabetical equivalent--on a couple of report cards). Those numbers are going to have to come up if the industry hopes to sustain itself. School districts and online content providers get to take shelter under a pretty sweet umbrella, though: who's to say why students fail to earn credit? Isolated, perhaps underconnected--and who can speak to a borderline distance student's motivation?--online learners may be the source of more questions than answers as educational demographics shift with the times.