Online K – 12 education is receiving considerable attention from established media, and much of that attention is negative. Getting Smart published an opinion piece that I had written about the spate of media attention to online K – 12. The opinion makes the case for the use of data and sound science for the evaluation of online education. It questions the use of invective, unidentified “experts,” and veiled attacks on capitalism as a reasonable and fair foundation for its evaluation.
U. S. global competitiveness depends upon education, and an excellent foundation in K – 12 is essential. Without that foundation, high school graduates are neither ready for the workplace nor college, an argument well-made by the work of Achieve. Employers suffer from ill-prepared graduates with the requirement for additional training and poor performance, and colleges – that are able to offer remedial education – waste students’ and taxpayers’ money on readying ill-prepared students for real college-level work.
Online learning is increasingly accepted by many sectors of society for the value that it provides in flexibility for and adaptability to the needs of learners who are better able to respond to that environment. The potential that online learning offers is probably still unrealized. As we increase online learning’s adaptive capacity, it may well be able to individualize education in ways that raise substantially its potential to improve students’ learning. That was the reason that Apollo acquired Carnegie Learning, admittedly an example from tertiary education rather than K -12. But the point applies equally well to K – 12.
Let’s give online learning a chance, but we should hold it to high standards in terms of outcomes – the same high standards to which we should hold learning from traditional education.