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#IOLchat Report: Online K-12’s Lessons for Higher Ed

Each week we meet via Twitter for #IOLchat to discuss current issues related to online learning. Participants include students, instructors, advisors, counselors, eLearning companies, schools, publishers, and instructional designers.

Online education is not just for college students. Virtual schools are making it possible for younger learners to study online as they work toward high school graduation and prepare for college.

This week we explored what higher education leaders might learn from online K-12 educators and administrators. Here’s a summary of the chat:

Fast Facts

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) provides a host of resources for teachers and administrators, among them a list of fast facts about K-12 online learning, which includes the following:

  • “40 states have state virtual schools or state-led initiatives.”
  • “74% of school districts with distance education [plan] to expand online offerings over the next three years.”
  • The number of students enrolled virtual schools full-time was “approximately 200,000 students in 2009-2010 and 250,000 students in 2010-2011.” It’s also interesting to note “there were an estimated 1,816,400 enrollments in distance-education courses … in 2009-2010.”

The iNACOL organization also coordinates an annual conference devoted to K-12 online education. Check out information from the recent Virtual School Symposium. Join the online community and follow the hashtag #vss12.

Preparation and Expectations

What skills, preferences, and perspectives will today’s K-12 online learners bring to their college classes in the coming years?

  • “They will be ready to embrace all new technology in higher ed and maybe even create some!”
  • These learners “will be more comfortable and confident in taking demanding online classes since it will be second nature.” They’ll also be more familiar with the technology and used to picking up new tech skills quickly.
  • “The learning curve of ‘learning to learn online’ may be behind them when they get to college-level online education,” allowing them to focus on their academic discipline.
  • “Future K12 students will bring a true expectation to learn any time and any where, and to see all experiences as learning opportunities.”
  • They are used to being “constantly connected,” which also “opens up all sorts of learning doors.”
  • They should be prepared to “construct knowledge and to excel at social learning” not expecting online learning to be a solitary experience.

Shaping the Future

How will these students and their expectations shape the future of online learning?

  • Mobile learning – many younger students are familiar with or even own mobile devices, and may even be involved in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives in their school districts.
  • “They will demand more authentic [learning experiences], more real-world assessment and will help construct it.”

Thanks to @wlampner and @The_Raheel for participating in the live event!

For more from the most recent live session, review the chat feed below. Our past chats can be found on the archives page.

Follow us (@OC_org) and plan to attend our next chat. We meet on Wednesdays at 12pm ET and look forward to hearing your perspective.

This week’s read-aheads:

Fast Facts About Online Learning [PDF] from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL)

The Coming Expansion of K12 Online Learning from John Sowash, EdReach

5 K-12 E-Learning Trends from Bridget McCrea, THE Journal

This week’s chat feed:

Image credit: USACE Europe District, Flickr, CC:BY

November 1st, 2012 written by (learn more about our authors)

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