Online learning is sweeping across America. In the year 2000, roughly 45,000 K–12 students took an online course. In 2009, more than 3 million K–12 students did. What was originally a distance- learning phenomenon no longer is, as most of the growth is increasingly occurring in blended-learning environments, in which students learn online in an adult-supervised environment at least part of the time. As this happens, online learning has the potential to transform America’s education system by serving as the backbone of a system that offers more personalized learning approaches for all students.
There is much consensus that integrated systems, hundreds of hours of high-quality dynamic content, simple analytics and automation, and tools that enhance student motivation are still needed.
Policymakers must adopt the right policies for this to transform the system into a student-centric one. There is a significant risk that the existing education system will co-opt online learning as it blends it into its current flawed, monolithic model—and, just as is the case now, too few students will receive an excellent education.