New Study Explores the Nature of Online Learning in K-12 Schools

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700,000 Students Studying Online During 2005-2006 School Year

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The Sloan Consortium's (http://www.sloan-c.org) first ever survey of online learning in elementary and secondary education, "K-12 Online Learning: A Survey of U.S. School District Administrators," predicts rapid growth in online education. The nationwide survey, conducted during the 2005-2006 academic year, finds that almost two out of three (63 %) school districts had one or more students enrolled in either a fully online or a blended course, which combines online learning with traditional face-to-face instruction. The new study estimates that 700,000 K-12 students were engaged in online courses in the 2005-2006 academic year. The complete survey is available at http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/index.asp.

"We are seeing a shift in how our children are learning: from a strictly classroom setting to a culture that includes online learning," said Frank Mayadas, program director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and president, Sloan Consortium "Districts foresee that over the next two years online enrollments will increase by 19 % and blended enrollments will go up by 23 %."

The Sloan Consortium's K-12 online survey, developed in collaboration with Hunter College and Babson College and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, consists of responses from 366 public school district chief administrators representing two million students nationwide. It was patterned after a similar study of online learning in higher education.

Survey results show online learning is meeting the specific needs of a range of students including those who need extra help, those who want to take more advanced courses and those whose districts do not have enough teachers to offer certain subjects.

"Perhaps the voices heard most clearly in this survey were those of small rural school districts," said Anthony G. Picciano, professor, School of Education, Hunter College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York. "For them, the availability of online learning is most important in order to provide students with course choices and, in some cases, the basic courses that should be part of every curriculum."

Picciano says these rural districts are potentially good models for districts facing teacher shortages in high-need subject areas such as high school science and mathematics.

The Sloan Consortium is the nation's largest association of institutions and organizations committed to quality online education and administered through Babson College and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. Visit http://www.sloan-c.org.

Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., is recognized internationally as a leader in entrepreneurial management education.

Hunter College is the largest college in the City University of New York (CUNY) system and the first choice among all CUNY applicants. Founded in 1870, the College offers more than 170 undergraduate and graduate programs. Hunter is noted for its professional schools in education, health sciences, nursing and social work, as well as its excellence in the liberal arts.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants in science, technology and the quality of American life.

Contact: Mike Chmura

(781) 239-4549

mchmura @ babson.edu

Patti Giglio

(202) 903-7869

psgcom @ starpower.net

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