Studies reveal virtual learning thrives during COVID, providing safe and flexible options for families and students at risk


Virtual learning in K-12 education continues to grow due to the health threat caused by the coronavirus variants and the help this model of learning can provide to at-risk students, according to two articles published today by the Pioneer Institute.

BOSTON, January 11, 2022 / PRNewswire-PRWeb / – Virtual learning in K-12 education continues to grow due to the health threat caused by the coronavirus variants and the help that this learning model may provide at-risk students, depending on two articles published today by the Pioneer Institute.

Although the two factors are markedly different, their impact is the same, as more and more families have been encouraged to explore the possibilities of digital learning. They discovered that expert virtual learning is different from what many parents and students experienced after schools unexpectedly closed in March 2020. Others saw how the use of technology can meet the unique needs of some children. and high school students, report the two studies.

Articles are written by Julie young, founder of Florida Virtual School and CEO of Arizona State University Prep Academy and ASU Prep Digital, and Guillaume Donovan, writer and former journalist. The reports also draw on government information, foundational studies, and interviews with experts in the field of digital learning.

“Virtual learning, using computers and the Internet to study lessons taught in the classroom, is not intended to replace education in school,” Young said. “But it offers a real alternative for families who have difficulty attending brick-and-mortar schools.”

The level of parental demand for distance education has declined since the peak of the shutdown wave as students returned to school full-time in 2021. But states and school districts in California, Florida, North Carolina, Utah and elsewhere in the United States continue to expand their pre-pandemic e-learning capacity to accommodate enrollment growth.

In “Virtual learning, a real option,” the authors explain why established virtual schools and their curricula are so different from the frantic shift to distance education schools were forced to make after the 2020 shutdown. This hasty rush has ruined virtual learning for many families. True virtual schools apply years of experience to create courses designed for the online platform. The courses are developed by teams of designers, experts in user interface, graphics, instruction and curriculum.

Most of the more than 330,000 students who attend one of the nearly 500 full-time virtual schools in the United States have not experienced the same disruptions as students in the classroom, say the authors.

Virtual learning is a specific form of education that takes place through an online platform. It has often been replaced by the term remote control to describe learning outside the classroom as if they were the same. Virtual learning is very different from what was often a hasty attempt to push distance education in the classroom through a computer screen when schools were closed. Distance learning is a general description of what was going on.

In the second article, “Online and On Course,” Young and Donovan discuss the benefits that virtual learning can offer to at-risk students, especially minority students and those from low-income families. These students often face personal or social issues such as violence in school, teenage pregnancy, or the need to work to help support their families. Unable to attend school, many drop out and ultimately fail to graduate.

The main benefit that digital learning can offer these students is to free them from the restrictions that tie learning to fixed times in a specific location.

“Too often we limit students to a system in which time is fixed and learning is variable,” Young explains. “Online learning overturns this system and makes time variable and learning fixed. Allowing students to work at their own pace and at their own pace is a way for them to meet their academic demands and responsibilities in outside of school. “

While extolling the virtues, the authors advise parents to take a close look at digital programs. Their quality and efficiency vary greatly. Students are poorly served by point-and-click assessments without engagement, virtual schools with videos instead of real teachers, and programs without pacing and planning assistance.

A key differentiator between questionable and quality virtual programs is adherence to national standards for quality online learning, which includes standards for virtual teaching, programs and courses. A competent virtual program must adhere to these standards.

The documents offer many recommendations, including the need to develop digital learning infrastructure with broadband access to rural communities; investment in teacher training for virtual education; and the need for districts to be more forward thinking in the design of schools such as hybrid models, learning modules and micro-schools.

about the authors

Julie young is ASU Vice President for Outreach and Student Services and Managing Director of ASU Prep Academy and ASU Prep Digital. She is a visionary CEO, educator and entrepreneur passionate about harnessing technology and creating innovative school models that put students at the center of every decision. Under Julie’s leadership over the past four years, ASU Preparatory Academy has grown exponentially in terms of enrollment and global impact, currently serving over 7,500 full-time K-12 students. and over 400,000 students enrolled in school partnerships in the United States. This unique program offers students an accelerated path to college admission and the careers of the future with the ability to earn high school and college credits simultaneously, reducing the time and cost of the degree. Julie was the founding CEO of Florida Virtual School (FLVS®), the world’s first virtual school district that started as a small grants initiative and has grown into the largest public K-12 program. in the United States, serving over 2 million students in 50 states and 68 countries.

Guillaume Donovan is a former editor of the Providence Journal at Rhode Island where he wrote on business and government. He has taught business journalism in graduate programs at Boston university and Northeastern University. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Boston College and his master’s degree in journalism from American University in Washington DC

About Pioneer

Pioneer’s mission is to develop and communicate dynamic ideas that promote prosperity and vibrant civic life in Massachusetts and beyond. Pioneer’s vision for success is a state and nation where our people can prosper and our society can thrive because we benefit from world-class education, healthcare, transportation and economic opportunities, and where our government is limited, accountable and transparent. Pioneer values ​​an America where our citizens are well educated and willing to test our beliefs on the basis of fact and the free exchange of ideas, and committed to freedom, personal responsibility and free enterprise.

Media contact

Micaela dawson, Pioneer Institute, 6177232277, [email protected]

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SOURCE Pioneer Institute

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