Last updated: 28.06.12

Administrators 'typically support online learning'

The majority (52 per cent) of school district administrators are supportive of providing classes through distance learning online, compared with one-third of these professionals in 2007, a report has shown.

Called Learning in the 21st Century: A Five Year Retrospective on the Growth in Online Learning, the study was created by Project Tomorrow and Blackboard Inc.

Recent investigations by the Babson Survey Research Group and Inside Higher Ed support its findings, with 80 per cent of academic technology administrators surveyed by the groups believing the boom in online learning is more exciting than frightening.

The Project Tomorrow and Blackboard Inc study found many people are willing to make web-based e-learning mandatory, with 45 per cent of students from US grades six to 12, 46 per cent of their parents and over two-thirds of administrators supporting the idea that an online class must be completed before a person can graduate.

This requirement has already been instituted by the states of Virginia, Michigan, Idaho, Florida and Alabama.

Furthermore, the number of students who would be interested in online training but have not engaged in it so far has surpassed the proportion who have no desire to do so, marking the first time this has occurred since 2007.

The report authors claimed the public is becoming increasingly familiar with the utility of e-learning courses, with this helping to drive personalised education in traditional classroom settings.

"A greater acceptance of digital learning is the driving force behind personalised education," Project Tomorrow chief executive officer Julie Evans said.

"Since 2007, we have easily seen an increase in sophistication around online learning as well as a new blending of emerging technologies, such as mobile and digital textbooks," she noted.

Nonetheless, principals of high schools could still be reluctant to embrace this innovative new educational model, with just 21 per cent polled in the study claiming they would permit their pupils to bring mobile decides into school and with two-thirds expressing opposition towards the so-called Bring Your Own Device movement.