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Learning in the 21st Century: 2010 Trends Update

Report CoverAs the use of computing and networking technologies in schools grows, educators increasingly incorporate online tools and resources into their curricula—some even replace traditional classroom interactions with “virtual” courses that take place entirely online. At the same time, administrators are concerned with helping students develop 21st century skills while bridging the digital divide between students and adults.

Today’s students are ready now to seize and shape the future by leveraging technology tools to implement their personalized vision for 21st century education. Online learning is at the heart of this momentum as it satisfies the three essential elements of this new student vision: learning that is socially-based, un-tethered and digitally-rich. But with the demand for online learning projected to grow each year, are our schools and educators ready and able to fully meet the challenge? This latest installment in a series of focused reports on online learning provides new insights into both the demand and supply side of this challenge with interesting new trends in the preparation of new teachers and the role of parents in influencing student views on online learning.

Key trends highlighted in the report include:

  • The number of high school students who are taking online classes for school credit has almost doubled since Speak Up 2008.
  • While the number of teachers who have taught online classes has tripled since Speak Up 2008, we still have more work to do to help teachers learn how to effectively leverage online learning to drive student achievement and increase their own productivity.
  • Even as aspiring teachers are gaining experience with online classes and online professional learning communities as part of their teacher preparation programs, only 4 percent report that they are learning how to teach online classes in their instructional methods courses.
  • Administrators are beginning to shift their focus on online learning from professional development for teachers to online classes for students.
  • Thirty-three percent of parents report they have taken an online class for their own professional needs or personal interests. Parents’ personal experiences with online learning are affecting how their children view the benefits of online learning as well.


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