The Shift of Online Learning into Secondary Schools

By Rapposelli, Joseph A. | Distance Learning, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Shift of Online Learning into Secondary Schools


Rapposelli, Joseph A., Distance Learning


INTRODUCTION

Over the past decade, online and distance learning programs have become a popular method of learning within the curriculum of higher education. Many major colleges and universities now offer students some type of online or "blended" form of learning option. Tansky (2007) refers to a study by the International Data Corporation that found over 87% of four-year colleges offered distance-learning courses in 2009, up from 62% in 2003.

However, many secondary schools are beginning to embrace the idea of distance learning possibilities for their students. Honwar (2005) noted a National Center for Education Statistics survey conducted in the 2002-2003 school year that found thousands of students were enrolled in courses conducted via the Internet or through video-audio-conferencing, with the teacher and student in separate places. Nearly 1 of every 10 public schools in the country had students enrolled in such courses (as cited in Honawar, 2005). Resmovits (2011) cites a similar survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education in the fall and winter of the 2010-2011 school year found that 55% of 2,310 school districts had students enrolled in some form of distance learning courses, 96% of which were given at the high school level. Resmovits further notes a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, online courses had approximately 1.8 million self-reported enrollments, more than three times the amount reported in the 2004-2005 school year (Resmovits, 2011).

CASE STUDY

The Red Clay Consolidated School District in Delaware is a secondary school system that has recently developed and implemented a distance learning program offered to high school students. Beginning in 2011, the district selected two schools that would offer classes to students at the other school via live video broadcast using state of the art technology. Each distance learning lab was equipped with the following technologies:

* two 72 inch flat-screen monitors in the front of the lab;

* front and rear high definition video camera (for broadcast mode);

* three-tiered student seating with 24 ergonomically correct swivel chairs and student work space;

* high quality microphones placed throughout student work area;

* twenty-four laptops with wireless internet connection;

* Smart Board technologies;

* document scanner/camera and image capture tools; and

* teacher podium with touchpad controls for all equipment.

Course selection and offerings for this program were based on the lack of availability at the partnering school. For example, teachers at the Conrad School of Science and Technology broadcasted courses to students located at Alexis I. du Pont High School (AMS) that included: world history AP, sociology and comparative government AP Alexis I. du Pont High school teachers offered classes to Conrad students that included: statistics AP, legal process, military history, and accounting. Through the use of Blackboard's Edline Course Management System platform, teachers were easily able to collaborate with all students and provide students with 24/7 access to all course materials.

BENEFITS TO STUDENTS

Participating students benefit from this program on several levels. Primarily, this program allows students the opportunity to enroll and complete courses that were not previously available to them. Many of the distance learning courses in this program are Advanced Placement (AP) classes that grant students college credit upon successfully completion of an examination. By taking advantage of these opportunities, students can get a head-start on their college requirements which have potential for financial savings to college-bound seniors. The Advanced Placement courses require students to successfully complete a final exam at the end of the course. The grading scale is from 1-5. Colleges and universities may accept scores beginning at level three. The results from the students that completed the AP exams for these courses are presented in Table 1. …

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