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Report: 83 Percent of High Schools Offer Online Courses

Only 17 percent of high schools do not currently offer any online classes and more than 40 percent are offering online courses in English language arts, history, math or science, according to the latest report from Project Tomorrow's Speak Up report.

Based on online survey responses from more than 400,000 teachers, administrators, students and community members, the latest report, "The New Digital Learning Playbook: Advancing College and Career Skill Development in K-12 Schools," examines attitudes about technology's role in preparing K-12 students for higher education and careers.

The reasons principals who participated in the survey cited for offering online classes include offering remediation, at a rate of 66 percent, Keeping students engaged, at 63 percent and to provide credit recovery options, at 61 percent.

"Teachers who teach online classes, in particular, see a strong correlation between the use of technology and students' college and career ready skill development," according to information released by Project Tomorrow. "More than half of these teachers say technology use helps students understand how to apply academic concepts to real world problems (58 percent), take ownership of their learning (57 percent) and develop problem solving and critical thinking skills (57 percent)."

Other key findings regarding online learning and digital resources include:

  • 32 percent of elementary school teachers surveyed told researchers they use games in their classrooms. The most common reason cited was increasing engagement, at 79 percent, followed by the ability to address different learning styles at 72 percent;
  • Science teachers are more likely than other teachers to report using digital content in the classroom, with 63 percent reporting that they use videos they find online versus only 48 percent of other teachers. Science teachers also reported using animations at a clip of 52 percent and only 22 percent of other teachers said the same. The difference held across other types of digital content as well, including virtual labs, real time data, online textbooks and teacher-created videos;
  • Teachers with online classes were more likely than those in 1:1 environments and those using digital content to report that technology helps students develop creativity, take ownership of their learning, develop critical thinking or problem solving skills or understand how concepts relate to the real world;
  • Online teachers were less likely than teachers in 1:1 environments and teachers who use digital content to tell researchers technology can increase motiviation to learn or help students learn to work collaboratively;
  • While 41 percent of teachers surveyed reported that they had taken at least one online course for professional development, only 17 percent told researchers they were interested in teaching an online class;
  • More than half, 54 percent, of administrators who participated in the survey told researchers they believed " that the effective use of digital content within the classroom can increase students' career readiness by linking real world problems to academic content. Administrators surveyed also said that providing enough computers and bandwidth to realize those benefits was a challenge, at rates of 55 and 38 percent, respectively; and
  • Technology administrators who took part in the survey said that sufficient bandwidth would increase the use of streaming content in classes (74 percent), increase the use of multimedia tools (68 percent) and the use of online curricula (57 percent).

Read a breakdown of the report's findings regarding mobile technology at thejournal.com. To view the full report, visit tomorrow.org.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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