Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Choosing an online education platform

The last few weeks, I have been spending hours upon hours searching for the right solution to online learning for our students who need credit recovery and courses due to scheduling conflicts.  I never realized how difficult it is to evaluate and how many platforms there are out there.

Of late, we have had our regular education students doing a program with live teachers through a state program. Our special education kids have an online platform that self grades.   We pay the live program per class and each student does their work and have someone grade it.  I have been really frustrated with this method lately because our students are being expected to keep working but don't get a direct response or grade.  They never know how they are doing and how far they have progressed because the teachers have teaching jobs and do this as an extra special.  Face it, they are all busy too, we all are.

So, I started looking for something that can be controlled in house and is comparable to the classroom environment, especially with content.  The online platform we have been using for our special education students isn't as content heavy and the kids who are stronger students won't get a challenge from it.

My process began by starting a thread in several state tech forums.  I wanted to know what others have found to be helpful and what others are using.  I needed to know what people thought and how the programs worked for them.  I understand that every situation is different, but there are a lot of schools out there using online education and a lot of them are finding great success with it.

My endeavor has led me to about 4 programs that meet our needs.  I have spent a lot of time doing meetings with their representatives, pilots, sample classes.  I have found that there is a lot of great stuff out there.  Some of the platforms are very user friendly and can be modified and edited to accommodate the needs of every student. It can be edited to match the curriculum the school district is using.  A lot of these tools are very impressive and exciting.  The cool thing is the cost difference!  We can get kids in online classes every class period for a site license fee and save a lot of money on online learning.  We can do great things offering this.  With so many colleges offering online classes and so many options in life being online, doing this makes for a lot of opportunities for kids to build needed future skills.

I am excited to be a part of the evaluation process.  I look forward to seeing the outcome.

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