A national study of school district administrators conducted in 2007 shows the number of students who were enrolled in either online or blended classes in K-12 schools was approximately 700,000. Just two short years later, in 2009, the numbers had dramatically changed: 1,030,000, nearly a 50% increase! Interestingly, this rather substantial increase was not from a few large virtual schools, but rather, the result of more and more students taking classes (both solely online and blended) in nearly three quarters of all the school districts (74.8 %) across the country. And now, in 2020, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, all students have been mandated, at least temporarily, to participate in online and/or virtual classes.
Due to this significantly higher demand, many online learning platforms have begun to offer access to their services for nearly free, or completely free. Additionally, many online tutoring companies are offering free sessions or free trial offers for their services. Some online tutoring companies are offering free classes and free summer camps. While other tutors offer a free one-hour, online session. Online learning has been thrust into the limelight in order to stay abreast of developments in academia. In order to serve the learning needs of students everywhere, education must embrace and welcome the support of modern technology. This includes being joyfully guided into the digital universe through both processes and contents that drive us toward virtual connectivity.
Learning, which has been described by Ivan Illich as “the human activity which least needs manipulation by others," can truly happen anywhere. Learning does not need a room with desks. Learning does not need a building with windows and books.
Learning merely needs an instructor courageous enough to try and a learner open and willing enough to engage. That said, online learning must develop into a process that can become more flexible, thus allowing and encouraging the learners to work at their own pace.
The Covid-19 outbreak that has literally thrown the entire world into isolation and seclusion, has paved the way for online learning. We have had to become more flexible while trying to maintain a certain standard of academic achievement for our children, our students. The restriction of direct contact with other people (outside of our immediate families) has substantially limited our ability for exploration and discovery. Yet, we as parents, educators, and concerned citizens of a global society, must remain vigilant to guard against the negative impact of such restrictions on the education process. We must be prepared for the future of education by preparing ourselves and our communities for the next step in online learning and teaching. When we welcome technology, we welcome the future.
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