In spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic compelled California’s group faculties to modify to totally on-line instruction to serve the system’s 2.1 million college students in a time of disaster. Right this moment, not all college students are keen to return to conventional face-to-face instruction, and potential college students have cited entry to on-line programs as crucial issue motivating enrollment. Making certain that schools, college, and college students have the sources they have to be profitable in on-line programs—together with entry to know-how—can be very important to assist meet rising scholar demand for extra flexibility and to enhance entry, completion, and fairness in our greater schooling techniques.
The demand for on-line programs will not be solely new. Pre-pandemic, group faculty enrollment in on-line programs was already on the rise. Between 2001, when internet-based programs have been first provided, and 2019, enrollment grew considerably. In fall 2019, the share of enrollment in on-line programs reached nearly 20% of complete course enrollments. And to fulfill scholar demand, group faculties have been rising the variety of on-line applications.
Within the second yr of the pandemic, group faculties began to encourage college students and school to return to in-person programs, however on-line enrollments remained excessive, with over thrice extra enrollments in on-line programs than face-to-face programs in spring 2021. In spring 2022, there have been nonetheless about 50% extra enrollments in on-line instruction than in face-to-face instruction. In distinction, previous to the pandemic, there have been solely a few fifth as many on-line enrollments as face-to-face enrollments.
With on-line studying and hybrid codecs rapidly turning into a part of the brand new regular, it’s important that these types of instruction be as efficient as in-person studying. Excessive-quality on-line programs are likely to observe requirements associated to course design, scholar interplay and collaboration, evaluation, learner assist, and accessibility. Nevertheless, creating high-quality on-line programs will not be essentially low-cost or straightforward, and the present proof on tutorial outcomes in on-line faculty programs is combined. Given the excessive quantity of group faculty programs—over 118,000 credit score programs in spring 2022 alone—even when a small fraction have been to stay on-line or hybrid, investing in high quality on-line instruction that produces comparable outcomes to face-to-face programs would require monumental effort and sources.
The California Group School Chancellor’s Workplace (CCCCO) has offered funding to assist faculties implement high-quality on-line educating and studying by means of a number of initiatives. The On-line Schooling Initiative helps college in utilizing rigorous requirements and rubrics for on-line programs. The CCCCO additionally helps the On-line Community of Educators, which offers coaching on digital instruments and platforms. Different initiatives present faculties with high-speed web and know-how. As well as, particular person faculties generally present coaching. For instance, Skyline School provides college assist in utilizing on-line studying administration techniques and bettering on-line pedagogy.
Nevertheless, these initiatives often depend on the motivation and curiosity of particular person college and departments, and school aren’t all the time compensated for participating in these actions. A sustained, systematic method that helps on-line course growth and supply—and that promotes finest practices in on-line schooling—is important to hurry up the adoption of high-quality requirements for on-line programs. Equally, guaranteeing that each one college and college students have entry to sources like broadband web and computing units, and that college students have entry to counseling and tutoring providers, can be very important.
Since scholar demand for on-line schooling is more likely to stay excessive within the coming years, offering acceptable incentives for college and faculties to enhance on-line instruction—and broadening scholar entry to on-line providers and sources—will assist make sure that on-line programs are delivered successfully and equitably.