Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Half of High School Classes Could Be Online by 2019

Report: Half of High School Classes Could Be Online by 2019

by Dave Nagel

Low-cost delivery and tailored learning opportunities could drive up to half of all high school courses online by 2019, according to a report from researchers that's set to appear in the summer issue of Education Next, published out of the Hoover Institution, the public policy research center at Stanford University.

The researchers--Clayton M. Christensen, Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Michael B. Horn, executive director of education at the Innosight Institute--said that while while only about 1 percent of courses in 2007 were online, this figure represents a 22-fold increase from 2000 and should grow to 10 percent within six years and to about 50 percent by 2019.

Two of the major reasons for this are that online course delivery is cheap compared with the "current public education model"-- $200 to $600 per course--and that online courses can offer things to students that traditional schools clearly can't. Viz:

* A broader curriculum;
* AP classes (note: as of 2003, a third of schools do not offer AP classes, and many that do offer the classes only offer "a fraction of the 34 courses for which AP exams are available");
* More "customized" learning opportunities;
* Remediation where none is available in the traditional school;
* Continuing education for dropouts; and
* Additional support for homeschooled students.

In these ways, the researchers pointed out, online schools are not competing with traditional schools, but complementing them or supplementing them. Christiansen and Horn referred to this approach as "disruptive innovation."

They explained: "A disruptive innovation extends its benefits to people who, for one reason or another, are unable to consume the original product [i.e., a traditional school]. Disruptive innovations tend to be simpler and more affordable than existing products. This allows them to take root in simple, undemanding applications within a new market or arena of competition. Disruptions rely on asymmetric motivation, in this case, taking on courses that the traditional system is relieved not to do and happy to hand off."

The researchers also found that the American public favors online education. According to a survey conducted by Education Next and the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard, a majority favor spending public funds on online education for "advanced coursework or to help students in rural schools get access to a broader range of courses." Another 69 percent said they'd let their children take courses online for credit.

And momentum is building. At present, some 25 states in the United States now offer courses online for high school students. "In 2006-07, one-third of high school seniors in Utah took a class online through the state's Electronic High School last year; 52,000 students were served by the Florida Virtual School, and 4,600 students were enrolled in the Georgia Virtual School," according to the researchers.

About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology.

Monday, August 4, 2008


If you are a principal or central administration and you are curious about Study Island, send me an email and I will follow-up with you. We have used Study Island on campus since 2003 and our results have been outstanding.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Study Island - Principal's Desk

Well, as you may have extracted from the title......I have taken a different path for the 08-09 school year. After 20 years in public education, I have decided to pursue another avenue of learning for students that I am very passionate about - online and virtual learning environments.

This was the most difficult decision that I have ever had to make, and although I am excited about the opportunity that awaits, I am also very sad to leave the principalship at Hyer. No principal could ask for better parents and students.....I have been truly blessed these last 5 years.

One thing that I have always told my two boys is that I hope that they are never afraid to step out and take a risk. Now obviously that doesn't apply to all things that teenagers encounter, but I think you understand what I am talking about here. This is just one of those times when I am modeling what I hope that I have instilled in each of my boys. To me this is what life is all about.......stepping outside of that comfort zone on occasion and trying something new. This opportunity at Study Island will allow me to continue to explore and develop student learning opportunities, but through a slightly different lens.

I guess the best way to encapsulate my decision is through one of my favorite poems and one that I have shared with my two sons for as long as I can remember.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thank you again for allowing me to be the principal of the best school in Texas.....I am forever changed and better for it.

Greg Smith