Last updated: 28.02.12

E-learning courses to arrive in Howard County

Online learning courses are to be offered by the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS).The Baltimore Sun reports the educational provider, based in the US state of Maryland, has earmarked $500,000 (£313,716) of its $697 million 2013 operating budget request for a new e-learning programme.It is thought this will herald the beginning of a virtual online educational facility.The HPCSS board has approved this and therefore given the distance learning platform the green light.Chief academic officer for HPCSS Linda Wise told the news provider the programme is still in its initial stages, although online learning courses had been piloted during summer school sessions in 2011.Furthermore, "small pieces" of digital learning have been implemented in the past, she added."We're in good shape to launch a very robust program," the specialist said.Some of the money earmarked for the initiative will be spent on the development, purchase and testing of e-learning tools, as well as the training of educational providers.Attempts will be made to blend e-learning into traditional classroom education and further details are expected to be implemented when a professional has been hired to oversee its implementation.Eventually, it is hoped the virtual learning environment will be tailored to each individual student and will accommodate them throughout their state education.Coordinator of instructional technology at Howard County Public Schools Julie Wray told the publication: "It's about expanding opportunities so these kids can have more chances to learn outside the school building and connect to folks outside of the school."Education can no longer be restricted to traditional buildings at regular scheduled times but can be personalised for every participant, she said.This summer, struggling students, as well as gifted and talented pupils, will be offered blended online courses that will be taught over the internet, as well as in the classroom.Howard County has been rated as one of the US' top ten most efficient school districts by Forbes Magazine, providing education of a high standard at comparatively little public cost.