“Students learn better with online and blended learning,” said Dr. Bozza. “Studies show that students involved in online learning outperform their peers, and students who mix online learning with traditional coursework do even better.”1
Online learning, which occurs over the Internet, has grown by 30 percent annually in the U.S. with 50,000 enrollments in the year 2000, and over 2 million enrollments in 2010, according to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).2 Online learning may be combined with face-to-face instruction in blended learning.
Three in four teachers who combined online learning with face-to-face teaching reported a positive impact on their face-to-face teaching,” according to iNACOL.3
“Online and blended learning allow a much more personal, and customized approach than traditional ‘chalk and talk’ instruction,” said Dr. Bozza. “It’s a completely new paradigm for instruction because the teacher no longer has to be the holder of all of the content. There’s literally no limit to the amount of knowledge that students can acquire. But, as with any new approach to education, we have to put the infrastructure in place to accommodate it. That includes ensuring access to digital content, training teachers, and creating relevant assessments for students.”
In his testimony, Dr. Bozza announced plans for NJASA to survey superintendents in January 2013, about current practices and programs in New Jersey’s schools and identify opportunities for expansion.
“This will be an important step,” he said, “as we at NJASA look to provide a new educational paradigm for New Jersey schools that will enable schools to expand learning opportunities for their students through the use of online resources, online courses and instruction. We will be empowering educators to tap into the power of digital content to engage students.”
He cited several long-term goals:
Position NJASA as the statewide hub of innovation and thought leadership on online education to its member schools.
Provide access to high quality online learning resources and services, courses, and instruction that have been vetted accountability and alignment with New Jersey and national curriculum standards.
Elevate the interest in utilizing digital resources and online learning among member schools.
Train educators in the use of online tools and resources.
Accelerate the utilization of virtual education in NJ schools to meet the academic needs of students.
Attract, engage and retain a global network of district and school leaders to collaborate towards long-term use of online learning to supplement traditional learning options.
NJASA also will work with K12, Inc., Intel, and Microsoft to develop resources that supplement a student’s program of study at their local school. For example a student may wish to:
Take an AP course their local school does not offer.
Complete the remaining requirements for graduation during a semester that the course on campus is already full or not offered.
Remain on schedule and/or graduate on time if he/she is homebound or hospitalized due to an illness.
Enroll in an online course for credit recovery when the student has already failed the course and needs to regain the credit.
Enroll in an online course because of scheduling conflicts at the local school.
Enroll in an online course due to personal preference and interest.
Utilize online tutoring sessions.
In addition, NJASA has partnered with the New Jersey School Boards Association and the Education Information and Resource Center on an online training program on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying for school district staff. NJASA will continue to help chief education officers explore online and blended learning at its annual TECHSPO at Bally’s Atlantic City, January 31 to February 1, 2013.
School Districts Initiate Online and Blended Learning that Support National Education Agenda
Technology applications for student learning are a significant component of the national agenda established by President Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Schools are moving from predominantly print-based classrooms to digital learning environments.
Duncan has noted that “states and districts are starting to lead this transformation which will accelerate student achievement faster than ever before.”
Schools are involving parents, community members, teachers, students and administration in the process of developing the vision, programs, technology, communications, applications and policies to bring additional use of technology to life in the schools in meaningful ways. In many cases, districts will incorporate students' own technological devices in the classroom.
In Lacey Township, N.J., a survey showed interest among students, parents and staff in online learning. The survey revealed that 83% of staff would like online learning opportunities for professional development and 54% felt that students would benefit from online learning. Among students, 54% expressed interest in taking an online course, and 100% stated they have an Internet-accessible computer at home. Of parents, 67% felt that online learning is moderate to very important for their children’s future.
Lacey Township High School (LTHS) is currently offering courses online that are not currently available in the district. Designated staff closely monitors student participation and success online. The district’s goal is to build capacity to engage every student in at least one online course prior to graduation.
In the Quakertown Community School District (QCSD) in Pennsylvania, administrators and educators support the vision of “anytime, anywhere learning” and flexible, customized learning paths for students. Online learning is available to all students in grades K-12. The program accommodates fully online students and hybrid students, and enrolled 90 in 2009-10, 140 in 2010-11, and 340 in 2011-12. Courses are taught by QCSD teachers, and have saved the district more than $250,000 per year.
For more examples of online and blended learning in area schools, contact the NJASA.
The New Jersey Association of School Administrators is an organization of chief education officers and school administrators who lead school districts in New Jersey’s 21 counties. The association’s mission is to ensure a superior statewide system of education. Through ongoing professional training and education, the association shares knowledge among its members about best practices from both educational and administrative perspectives. Its goal is to move education forward by ensuring the highest quality of instruction for all New Jersey children.