The Online Coursework Debate: The Role of Online Classes in K-12 Education

More and more students in the K-12 grades are participating in some form of online learning. Some parents are choosing this educational channel because it provides more individualized instruction that meets the unique needs and learning styles of their children. However, the growing role of online coursework is not without controversy. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

High school students on computers

What Is Online Learning?

At the K-12 grade levels, online learning is often a supplement to in-person classroom instruction, though full-time online programs are becoming more widespread. Students can explore class lessons from the comfort of their homes and complete assignments at almost any time of day, depending on the program and the school. Some online programs are offered in school computer labs.

Online learning can occur in a variety of ways. Students can either learn during set times in which their teachers are logged in ready to interact live, or students learn at their own pace but can e-mail teachers when necessary. In both formats, student performance is evaluated and feedback is provided, just like a traditional classroom.

Types of Online Programs

Online learning can either be full-time or part-time. For full-time programs, students rarely attend a traditional brick-and-mortar class, instead doing the bulk of academic work online. Many full-time online programs are operated by charter schools, and home-schooled students are the most common enrollees.

For supplemental programs, students have the opportunity to take courses that are not offered at their current school, such as certain Advanced Placement courses or electives. Students may also have the opportunity to make-up courses they failed in the past. This may be helpful when a student originally failed due to falling behind or getting bored with the structure of a traditional classroom.

students learning on computers

A Healthy Debate

While proponents of online learning note the flexibility and additional academic options open to students, opponents of K-12 online learning say it's merely designed to lessen the burden of teacher salaries and operational expenses, especially with state and local budget crises negatively affecting the education system. Critics also argue that some high schools use online courses to artificially raise graduation rates and minimize the potential for larger budget cuts, according to the New York Times.

As technology continues to develop, online classes seem destined to grow in prominence. Yet their place in K-12 education is likely to be debated until it's clear how to appropriately define their role. For now, many schools and students will continue to experiment with this fast-growing trend.

Find out what factors to consider when looking into online high school programs.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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Popular Schools

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

    Colorado Christian University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Brenau University

    Brenau University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Brenau University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Leo University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

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