Through my experience as an adjunct instructor in higher education, I have seen how students benefit from the convenience and transportation savings of being enrolled in hybrid (some face to face and some online) or completely online courses. They have also faced challenges with an overwhelming amount of independent work and little or no previous online experience, which requires time management, organization, and self- instruction. Most Delaware high school graduates do not have experience with this format, despite approximately 66% of postsecondary institutions offering distance education courses and many professors incorporating technology in traditional courses.
I am excited to see that at least five Delaware districts have dedicated RTTT funds to the implementation of online educational tools. Capital, Colonial and New Castle County Vo-Tech will use APEX, a provider of digital curriculum that works with a district to differentiate instruction online. Delmar is partnering with Study Island, a similar e-learning tool, to offer tutoring on content standards. Sussex Tech plans to research online course providers this summer and implement a provider by the fall of 2013 to provide students access to a variety of career-ready and college-ready courses that are not presently available for students.
This presents an interesting perspective on the K-12 to higher education transition. There are 15 states that require high school students to earn online credits in order to graduate; however, Delaware is not in this group. We don’t have any online or partially online charter schools, like Rocketship or School of One. And the Delaware Virtual School pilot, in which the state and business community invested, was not continued. More districts will be incorporating online learning through RTTT, some students take higher education courses in high school through dual enrollment, and Moyer Academy Charter School students are offered online coursework through K-12; however, we are still a long way from entering the digital world.
Will RTTT give Delaware the opportunity to get ahead of the virtual learning curve and catch up with the world in which our students are living? It may depend on the success of these initial efforts.