Distance Learning

New York State Issues Recommendations To Support Blended and Online Learning

Online and blended learning programs can increase course options for students in rural areas and have the potential to transform face-to-face instruction, as long as state-level supports are in place, including professional development opportunities for teachers and related training for pre-service teachers, according to a new report from the New York State Online Learning Advisory Council.

The council was formed in 2014 and tasked with the responsibility of "developing recommendations regarding the statewide delivery of online and blended learning services in school districts," according to a news release. The council consists of 11 members "whose backgrounds include a wide variety of expertise in online and blended learning."

Based on extensive communications with key education stakeholder organizations in the state, the council developed a list of recommendations to support the further development and expansion of online learning opportunities for students.

The council's recommendations include:

  • Implementing professional development programs to expand instructional skills;
  • Providing certain waivers of regulations that will reduce the risk for teachers and schools as they implement new online learning programs;
  • Establishing a team of leaders at the New York State Education Department specifically dedicated to online education and educational technology; and
  • Incorporating online and blended learning training within pre-service teacher curricula.

"Online and blended learning systems provide school districts, teachers and students with innovative and cutting-edge approaches to education," said Senator Catharine Young, chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, in a prepared statement. "There are tremendous opportunities for schools to utilize these teaching methods and dramatically enhance the educational experience for students."

The full report, "New York State Online Learning Advisory Council's Report to New York's Governor, Legislature and Commissioner of Education: Final Report — Findings and Recommendations," is available as a downloadable PDF from the New York State Senate's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].