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eLearning Update: Not All Programs are Created Equal

As my Digital Directions colleagues and I are in the throes of reporting for an upcoming special report about online educators, I'd like to turn your attention to this story about both the advantages and the concerns that parents should be aware of when enrolling their children in online schools.

The story has a California focus, but the advice is applicable to nearly any state. As the article says:

[John Fleischman of the Sacramento County Office of Education] recommends that parents do the following when evaluating an online school:
• Review the content.
• Assess the design of the school's website.
• Examine the curriculum and make sure it meets college requirements.
• Check the materials for accuracy and fairness.

Not all online learning programs are created equal, the article warns, and this is one of the main struggles I face in my reporting of K-12 online learning, as well. The sheer variety of programs—from the way they are funded to the teachers they hire to the curriculum they use and what they expect from students—make it hard to draw any conclusions or make any blanket statements about what it means to be a student or teacher in the K-12 online learning environment.

I wrote a story a few months ago about the accreditation of online schools, which touched on these issues, here. Also, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or iNACOL, has several resources on its website about how to determine which online learning programs are high-quality, including "A Parent's Guide to Choosing the Right Online Program" if you are looking for further information.

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