Virtual learning environments 'benefit students and teachers'
Virtual learning environments enable students to engage in personalised education, while freeing teachers from the constraints of classroom management tasks. This is according to Michael Van Beek, dierector of education policy at Michigan-based research institute the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who argued schools will be able to inspire and encourage students while exploiting their strengths and supporting their passions through the use of e-learning courses. He highlighted the Clintondale Community Schools as an example of what online learning can provide. The district has an operating deficit of around 15 per cent and relatively few areas in the state have worse finances, the specialist noted. Nonetheless, Clintondale High School has been able to utilise the opportunities provided by innovations in the education sector to encourage student successes. In 2010, 52 per cent of freshmen did not pass English, 28 per cent failed social studies, 41 per cent did not achieve a passing grade in science and 44 per cent failed maths. However, these figures fell by 19 per cent, nine per cent, 13 per cent and 19 per cent respectively in just one year after principal Greg Green proposed the "flipped classroom" initiative, Mr Beek said. As well as improving student experiences, teachers believe 'flipped' classrooms are providing them with benefits, with one educator telling him this is allowing him to coach individual pupils to help them attain their fullest potential. Overall, the school claims its failure rates have dropped by 33 per cent in total through this e-learning solution, while discipline problems have declined by 66 per cent, which the institution describes as "dramatic". This idea utilises digital and online learning technologies to provide educational materials to students outside of the classroom, while traditional academic time is utilised for applying and practicing this e-learning material. "Digital learning can greatly improve the way educational services are delivered," Mr Beek said, adding: "More schools should embrace this innovation."