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iNACOL Identifies Top Online Learning Trends

One of the latest in the stream of reports emanating from the ongoing iNACOL Virtual School Symposium says the biggest emerging trends in online learning include the growth of district-led online schools, the expansion of blended (or hybrid) learning, and the acceptance of mobile learning.

Those trends, says a primer from iNACOL that attempts to address developments in online learning during the past three years, come at a time when, despite lagging behind postsecondary schools, more K-12 educators and administrators are realizing and pursuing the benefits of online learning.

With regards to district-led schools, the report notes 85 percent of attendees to a session on starting a virtual school at the 2009 symposium attended to gather information about starting a district-level program. Just two years prior at the same session, that figure was only 10 percent.

On blended learning, the document defines what it calls a "buffet model," where a student takes traditional brick-and-mortar course and also enrolls in one or more online courses, as well as an "emporium model" in which face-to-face courses that implement elements of online learning. Both models, it says, are growing.

And on mobile learning, the primer points to a survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in late 2007 that says devices like netbooks, cell phones, smartphones, media players, and tablet computing devices will be the primary point of connectivity for Americans by 2020. It then notes data from Project Tomorrow's Speak Up survey that shows students are receptive to using their own mobile devices for education.

The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning and the 2010 edition of Keeping Pace have also been released at iNACOL's Virtual School Symposium, which closes today in Glendale, Ariz. The hosts, meanwhile, announced the second annual class of winners for their Online Innovator Awards.

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