Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Can Online Learning Support Critically At-Risk Students?

Last year, Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans shared Speak Up data in the 2014 Alternative Accountability Policy Forum in Coronado, California. The annual forum, held by the School for Integrated Academics & Technologies (SIATech), Reaching At Promise Students Association (RAPSA), and WestEd, is dedicated to improving and strengthening accountability for schools serving at-risk students. Check out a summary of Julie's presentation with Maria Worthen from iNACOL below:


Can Online Learning Support Critically At-Risk Students?

Online and blended learning can help close the opportunity gap in education by expanding learning opportunities otherwise unavailable to low-income students, students in small or rural communities, out of school youth, and others. The majority of high schools report using online learning for credit recovery and for keeping students on pace to graduate. When well designed and implemented, components of digital competency-based learning are well-matched for educating at-risk students for the following reasons:
  • Students advance upon mastery.
  • It provides explicit, measurable, transfer-able learning objectives that can empower students.
  • Assessment is meaningful and can create a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions. 
Julie and Maria used Speak Up data and other research studies to show that student outcomes in blended learning exceed both traditional learning outcomes and online instruction-only outcomes, and that students enjoy digital learning because it personalizes instruction and is collaborative. At the end of the presentation they advised attendees that students are a "digital advance team" and can help educators plan technology programs for their schools; they also acknowledged a need for more information, as this type of online learning has the potential to change students' futures.

To learn more about Julie and Maria's session, as well as the 20 other sessions from the forum, check out WestEd's summary of the Third Annual Alternative Accountability Policy Forum.