Online Learning

Overview

Online Learning

Just a little over a decade ago, online learning for many educators fell into the realm of science fiction, or worse, snake oil. Visions of students accessing an array of courses on their computers, interacting with teachers over the internet, and participating in virtual “field trips” seemed more fantasy than reality.

Just a little over a decade ago, online learning for many educators fell into the realm of science fiction, or worse, snake oil. Visions of students accessing an array of courses on their computers, interacting with teachers over the internet, and participating in virtual “field trips” seemed more fantasy than reality.

But in 2012, with advances in the availability, quality and usability of electronic devices, nearly 2 million K-12 students are taking online courses, some 200,000 of them in full-time academic programs, according to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). This Topics section examines the rise of online education through research, reporting, and other resources.

After Florida, Michigan and other early adopter states ventured into the virtual schools arena in the late 1990s and early 2000s, other states joined in the movement. Online learning is now a widely available option for students across the country looking to make up credits toward graduation, take courses not available in their local schools, or get a jump on college through dual-enrollment programs. At least 40 states have some kind of online learning program, and 30 states allow students to attend school full time via the internet. Those programs provide districts with new options for meeting students’ needs.

Online learning is no longer the novelty it once was. Increasingly, advocates are making the case that digital learning can play a leading role in addressing a range of challenges facing K-12 education. For example, Bob Wise, a former governor of West Virginia who is now president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, said at a national leadership summit in February 2012 that online learning is an “imperative for meeting those challenges such as providing sufficient opportunities for students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the global economy; dealing with budget deficits that are forcing program cuts; and ensuring students’ access to high-quality teachers, curricula, and learning experiences.

Questions on Quality

A number of alternative school models, including cyber charters, are beginning to gain traction as a result of the interest in and availability of online coursework. While the total number of charter schools utilizing an online or blended model is still tiny, they are multiplying. Michigan lawmakers, for example, approved a measure in March 2012 to expand the number of cyber charters in the state from two to 15 in the near future. The 11 cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania through 2012 have been popular among families seeking alternatives to the traditional public schools, but their quality has been called into question because most of their students have been unable to reach state benchmarks on math and reading tests. Some Pennsylvania school districts have used that data to make the case for cyber students to come back to traditional public schools.

Indeed, more questions are surfacing about the academic quality of the online programs. The National School Boards Association has been particularly vocal on this issue, citing in a report in May 2012 a “troubling” lack of “good information about results and accountability.” Interest and demand for online learning options for K-12 students have surged in recent years due to their potential to provide cost-effective means of expanding instructional options and cater to students who’ve grown up using the internet for both informal and formal learning. Yet experts and advocacy groups agree that more research is needed to gauge the effectiveness of online and blended learning models.

The few solid studies that are available have not been in agreement in their findings. Some comparison studies, for example, have found a slight advantage in student outcomes for online courses, others for face-to-face instruction. A federal meta-analysis of the research on online learning, released in 2009, drew only tentative conclusions due to a lack of solid research on online learning practices. That analysis, though, found a slight advantage for blended learning over traditional classroom instruction.

Blended Learning Takes Hold

The success of School of One, a pilot project in New York City public schools that utilizes a blended model to personalize learning at each student’s own pace has been lauded as the kind of innovation needed for today’s schools. School of One, which started under the umbrella of the New York City Department of Education in a handful of middle schools several years ago, spun off as a nonprofit in January 2012. It also recently won a $5 million federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to expand the model beyond the district.

Blended learning has taken hold as districts begin to rethink how they deliver instruction amid fiscal instability and criticism of the traditional model of schooling, according to the Innosight Institute, a research and consulting firm working on innovation in education. Online and blended learning programs are growing fastest at the district level, says Keeping Pace With K-12 Online Learning 2011, an annual report on the subject by the Colorado-based consulting firm Evergreen Education Group. In Indianapolis, for example, officials approved 19 new charter schools using a mix of online and classroom instruction.

The availability of compelling online and multimedia resources has led to growing enthusiasm for another approach: the flipped classroom. The concept allows for students to receive instruction at home via computer that in a traditional classroom would be delivered in person by a teacher. In a flipped classroom, students review readings, videos and other materials at home in advance and then use class time to have in-depth discussions, conduct experiments, work on projects, or complete assignments traditionally given as homework. In the Los Altos school district, for example, middle grades students use instructional videos available through the free, online Khan Academy, to help teachers assess their skill level and better prepare them for class lessons.

With the emergence of so-called open source resources on the internet, some observers predict a revolution in the way children acquire knowledge and learn new skills. Akin to the Khan Academy model, TED and YouTube have launched video sites to capture model lessons and make them freely available. Free curriculum sites, such as Curriki and Open Education Resource Commons, provide a vast archive of content for teachers to use whole cloth or as a supplement to what they are already teaching. The open source movement has also inspired many teachers to share the lessons and strategies they’ve perfected over the course of their careers. The Open High School of Utah, for example, gives teachers time and support to create model curricula for the virtual academy. Some of the big commercial publishers, such as McGraw-Hill and Pearson, also create open source materials for use in schools.

While many nonprofit entities are involved in some aspects of implementation of online initiatives, many states and districts depend on for-profit providers for content and technical support. K12 Inc. and Connections Academy are among the leading providers in this market.

Latest News

Parents and Educators Hope the Rise of Online Learning Lives On After the Pandemic, Report Finds. But Researchers Say Privacy Protections Shouldn’t Be Sacrificed

Although the pandemic forced students into an abrupt shift to haphazard online learning earlier this year, a majority of parents and educators support the boom in education technology and hope online learning goes on after the public health emergency subsides, according to a new report.

But researchers argued that the surge in digital education shouldn’t come at the expense of privacy protections that keep kids safe online — even if neither parents nor educators ranked that as an urgent concern.

Latest News

Parents Are Worried About Schools. Are the Candidates?

Communities large and small are battling over whether and how to reopen schools closed since March. Superintendents are warning of drastic budget cuts on the horizon, teachers’ unions are calling for standardized tests to be canceled for a second straight year and millions of children are learning remotely, with little evaluation of the impact on their academic growth.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Pandemic-Driven Disparities Seen in After-School Programs
As coronavirus wears on, what role will out-of-school providers play in meeting community needs?

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a disproportionate toll on the education of low-income students and people of color. Stories abound on the situation, especially when it comes to remote instruction and plans for school re-opening. But even after the school day ends, the disparities persist.

Latest News

Opening Schools and Other Hard Decisions

Emily Oster is a professor of economics at Brown University. She’s also known for her data-driven approach to parenting, which she’s outlined in her two books, Expecting Better and Cribsheet. Earlier this year, Oster brought her parenting approach to an email newsletter that was supposed to cover everything from baby carriers to allergies.

But when the coronavirus upended everything, Oster started writing about making decisions during this time of uncertainty. Like: is it safe for kids to see their grandparents?

Latest News

Kindergarten Enrollment Plummets In Wisconsin Amid Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a significant toll on school enrollment in Wisconsin – especially in the youngest grades.

Public schools experienced an about 3% decline in student numbers this fall – compared to less than 1% decline last year. The biggest drop is in 4-year-old kindergarten. 4K numbers fell by about 16% this fall. Regular kindergarten enrollment fell by about 5%.

Read the full story here. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How to Get Voters to Care About School Board Elections
School board races are even more crucial during the pandemic

School board races typically get short shrift in election coverage. On ballots, they’re often relegated to the last pages, along with district court judges and densely worded ballot measures.

But school board members play a key leadership and oversight role in local public schools. During the pandemic, that includes an important new responsibility: largely deciding whether (and when) shuttered campuses will reopen, as well as setting the parameters for remote or hybrid learning.

Webinar

Student Privacy in the Era of Remote Learning

Student Privacy in the Era of Remote Learning

As schools scrambled to create remote learning plans and adjust to the new online reality, parents worried about the increased access to their children’s online data. An early summer survey of approximately 1,200 parents by the Center for Democracy and Technology found widespread worries about children’s online safety and privacy. But only 43 percent of parents said someone at their school had discussed student privacy with them. 

Latest News

Latino Immigrant Parents Struggle to Find Help With Distance Learning

Three weeks into the academic year, Veronica Macario’s 10-year-old son had yet to attend class at Manzanita Community School. He had a laptop from the school. He’d received directions on how to log into classes. “But since he doesn’t understand English,” Macario explained in Spanish, “he didn’t understand anything.”

Latest News

Most American Students are Learning Virtually, Poll Shows

The majority of America’s public school students are learning exclusively online, according to a new national poll of their parents — and most of those parents want school officials to focus on improving that experience.

Latest News

METCO Schools Are at the Intersection of the Pandemic and Racism

But choosing to let her daughter go to school also reveals Castro’s distrust of remote learning. She believes that when Bedford went completely virtual in March, it compromised the learning experience for students. Let down in the spring, she chose the hybrid learning option for this school year.

Read the full story here.

EWA Radio

‘Left Behind’ By Remote Learning
In Baltimore and other cities, COVID-19 school closures are widening opportunity gaps for vulnerable students
(EWA Radio: Episode 249)

Steindorf Steam School Sign indicates school Is closed

Was the decision to close schools and send students home for remote learning influenced more by politics than the science of what would keep kids safe? That’s the central argument made by ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis in a new story co-published with The New Yorker. MacGillis, who tells the story in part through the experiences of a 12-year-old in his hometown of Baltimore, shows how vulnerable Black, brown, and poor children are most likely to face long-term consequences for lost learning time.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Pandemic Is Taking a Toll on the Child Care System. Here’s What Analysts Say Is Needed to ‘Rebuild’

About half of all child care centers are expected to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and their meager share of federal relief funds cannot begin to address the crisis in an industry that serves an essential role in both early education and the economy, experts said during a recent panel hosted by the Education Writers Association.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Surges to Top Tier of Presidential Race Amid Pandemic
Journalists offer insights, story ideas on covering the schools angle

Education Surges to Top Tier of Presidential Race Amid Pandemic

Education is not typically an issue that comes to the forefront in presidential races.

But months of an ongoing coronavirus pandemic have elevated conversations about how schools and elected officials are tackling the issue. In fact, education took a front seat in high-stakes negotiations this summer over a federal stimulus bill that has stalled.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Is COVID-19 Impacting the Teacher Workforce?
Economic pressures, educator diversity, and rethinking professional development

The coronavirus pandemic is creating huge challenges for the teacher workforce — layoffs, pay cuts, fear of COVID-19 exposure among those returning to bricks-and-mortar classrooms, to name a few. At the same time, analysts and teacher advocates also see a unique opportunity to innovate and rethink traditional practices.

Latest News

86% of Michigan School Districts Offering Some In-Person Learning

According to a study by Michigan State University, 86% of Michigan school districts will offer some or all instruction in-person at the beginning of the school year.

The study, conducted by Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education, found 59% of Michigan school districts are offering students an option to return to school five days a week and 27% of districts are providing students with the ability to return to schools at least two to three days a week.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why It’s So Hard to Report on Schools While Home-Schooling During a Pandemic
One journalist shares her struggle to report while guiding her son with autism through school

With a college kid rooting around the fridge for yet another meal, a husband conducting loud Zoom meetings about two feet from my desk, and a teen with autism freaking out from a lack of structure, 2020 is not shaping up to be a banner year for productivity as a freelance education writer.

Latest News

As Hewlett-Packard Can’t Deliver Computers on Time, Cleveland School District Sent Scrambling to Find 9,000 New Laptops in Two Weeks

The Cleveland school district begins the fall semester — entirely online — in two weeks, and in the 11th hour, it heard from a major supplier that it would not be able to give every student their own laptop by then.

The Hewlett-Packard Company reneged on a commitment to provide 9,000 laptops by Sept. 8, the first day of the new academic year, and now the infuriated school district is rushing to find computers for students before then.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Schools Brace for Mental Health Challenges During COVID-19 and Civil Unrest
Experts discuss trauma, social and emotional development

As schools nationwide gear up for a new school year during the pandemic — whether virtually or in person — meeting the social, emotional and mental health needs of students and staff will be a huge challenge and priority for school systems.

Educators and counselors said stories are waiting to be told at every level of education as the combination of pandemic fears and racial injustice puts added pressures on students and teachers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Schools Experiment to Allay the Inequitable Impact of COVID-19
Pandemic sparks calls for changes to technology, curriculum and funding.

In an effort to counteract the way COVID-19 is worsening many educational inequities, government and educational leaders around the country are trying a variety of interventions such as free headphones, traffic light Wi-Fi, and more explicit teaching about the realities of race relations.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Jeb Bush Says ‘Classic Conservatives’ Want More Educational Funding, Local Control and Parent Choice
Former Florida governor supports taxpayer vouchers, including for private schools with rules against hiring LGBTQ staff

Cable TV shouting heads can make it seem as if party politics — more than research — guides stances on how education leaders should respond to COVID-19. But in a conversation with education journalists, one prominent Republican outlined potential divisions among those who identify as conservatives.

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and 2016 presidential candidate, called for additional federal funding to help schools during the public health crisis and to address historical inequities affecting low-income students.

Latest News

How Online Learning Fails Low-Income Students Amid Covid-19

A Los Angeles Times survey of 45 Southern California school districts found profound differences in distance learning among children attending school districts in high-poverty communities, like Maria’s in Coachella Valley, and those in more affluent ones, like Cooper’s in Las Virgenes, which serves Calabasas and nearby areas.

These inequities threaten to exacerbate wide and persistent disparities in public education that shortchange students of color and those from low-income families, resulting in potentially lasting harm to a generation of children.

Latest News

Back to School? – Local K-12 Educators Look at Ways to Start the School Year as COVID-19 Looms

Every summer, Geoffrey Carlisle plans hands­-on lessons for his newest class of eighth-grade emerging scientists. Usually, the KIPP Austin College Prep teacher plans lessons where his students stand in a circle – to analyze and manipulate 3D fabric models or to learn about gravity while handling bowling balls and marbles. They stand close to each other, discussing what they’re learning.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Scramble for Effective Special Education in a Pandemic
Virtual learning often doesn't work for students with disabilities, experts say

The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has created reopening challenges for schools across the nation, but those challenges are magnified for the seven million students with disabilities whose educational plans and therapies often rely on the structure of a classroom setting and face-to-face services and lessons.

Latest News

Lost Summer: How Schools Missed a Chance to Fix Remote Learning

With some combination of optimism, anxiety and wishful thinking, many educators spent their summers planning, in minute detail, how to safely reopen classrooms. Teachers stocked up on sanitation supplies as superintendents took a crash course in epidemiology and studied supply chain logistics for portable air filters.

Latest News

Poll Finds Parents, Fearing Covid, Prefer Mix Of Online And In-Person School

Most American parents think it’s unsafe to send their children back to school given the risks of the novel coronavirus, and more than 80 percent favor holding school at least partly online, according to a Washington Post-Schar School survey conducted by Ipsos.

But parents also express serious concerns with online schooling and many are drawn to systems that mix the two.

Latest News

Tech Woes Mar Start to Virtual Class for Nashville Public School Students

The first day of school for thousands of Nashville families started off rocky Tuesday with many experiencing technology and connectivity issues as they tried to log on for virtual learning.

Some students and families were able to get online to join live classroom meetings or check in with their teachers on personal devices for the first day, but some of those dependent on devices provided by the district were left in the dark.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Educating During COVID: Superintendents and College Leaders Scramble to Fill Students’ New Needs
Solutions include more financial aid, free headphones and traffic light wifi hotspots

Pedro Martinez, the superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District, oversees the education of almost 50,000 students. Ninety percent live in poverty, he said, and half of the families in the district make less than $35,000 a year. Martinez described educating students, kindergarten through high school, who live in cramped homes without computers or internet connections since the pandemic hit in March. 

Latest News

Survey: Less Time on Schoolwork, More Paper Packets in High-Poverty Districts

Once the pandemic upended normal school this spring, students of all ages in high-poverty school districts were asked to do less schoolwork and spend less time in class than their peers in affluent school districts.

That’s according to a national survey led by the American Institutes for Research, one of the most sweeping efforts to date to track what student learning looked like during that period. It includes responses from a nationally representative group of 474 school districts across the country, collected from mid-May to mid-July.

Latest News

Survey Reveals Stark Rich-Poor Divide In How U.S. Children Were Taught Remotely During The Spring School Closures

As the coronavirus pandemic spread through the country, a common (socially distanced) conversation among friends and families compared how many hours of remote learning kids were getting. Preliminary results from a new survey of school districts confirm what many parents learned through the Zoom grapevine. The number of hours your kids got varied wildly depending on where you happen to live. But the amount of time was not the only difference, according to a recent survey: the type of instruction students received also diverged dramatically.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

US Rep. Bobby Scott: ‘If You Can’t Open Schools Safely, Don’t’
Congressman details schools' planning, funding, and Republican discord during EWA interview

If schools can be opened safely, then do it. “If you can’t do it safely, you shouldn’t do it at all.” That’s the view of the Democratic congressman with the most clout in federal education policy.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, dismissed recent CDC guidelines that emphasize the importance of reopening schools in a Friday, July 24 webinar at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar.

Latest News

San Antonio Will Leverage Traffic Lights to Expand Fiber Network For Students

The city of San Antonio will leverage traffic lights in its plan to connect 20,000 students’ homes to their schools’ wireless networks.

“In order to get into a neighborhood, you have to go where the infrastructure is,” said Craig Hopkins, the city’s chief information officer.

The city will build LTE wireless broadband connections off an existing fiber-optic cable network that runs for 1,000 miles above and below ground and links libraries, police stations, public safety radio systems — and remotely operated traffic signals.

Seminar

73rd EWA National Seminar

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. 

This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Under the Circumstances, No Pomp for the Class of 2020
Telling the story of a senior year changed by coronavirus

Few years are as laden with symbolic touchstones as the senior year of high school. With this year’s graduates denied those rites of passage due to the coronavirus pandemic — or at least the traditional rituals associated with them — emotions are running understandably high. 

For Frances Suavillo, an immigrant from the Philippines who is the valedictorian at Carson High School near Los Angeles, the change in plans wasn’t easy.

Webinar

What Khan Academy’s Founder Wants You to Know About Online Learning
Sal Khan shares insights on education during the coronavirus pandemic and the future of learning

What Khan Academy’s Founder Wants You to Know About Online Learning

With millions of K-12 students stuck at home during the pandemic, the nation is engaged in a massive, crisis-driven experiment in remote learning. What do education journalists need to know to better understand and report on what’s happening? To help address that question, EWA is turning to one of the pioneers in online learning — Khan Academy founder and CEO Sal Khan.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Word on the Beat: Remote Learning

As communities nationwide grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, educators are struggling to provide young people with meaningful opportunities to continue learning even with most public schools now closed. In this installment of Word on the Beat, we look at how digital tools are being put into quick action for K-12 education — and how that’s creating both opportunities and challenges for teachers, students, and families.

Webinar

Remote Learning 101 in the Time of COVID-19
What reporters need to know as students, schools, and families adjust to the new reality of distance teaching and learning

Remote Learning 101 in the Time of COVID-19

For millions of K-12 students, remote learning at home has replaced bricks-and-mortar classrooms for the foreseeable future, as districts comply with orders to shut down schools in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

What do reporters need to know about remote teaching and learning? How is the shift playing out across the country? What are compelling story ideas for reporters covering the day-to-day aspects of this experiment in remote learning, as well as big-picture angles for down the road? 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Coronavirus Effect: Story Ideas on Students, Schools
How COVID-19 is poised to reshape the learning experience

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t just a public health story. It’s also an education story; many of them, actually. With most of the nation’s public and private schools now closed, education reporters are on the front lines of crisis coverage. News outlets around the country are a crucial source of information for communities.

Here are a handful of story ideas to tap in covering what continues to be a fast-changing situation on the preschool through secondary education front, with lots of strong examples of enterprising news coverage.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Five Tips for Education Reporters Covering the Coronavirus
How COVID-19 health crisis could impact students and schools, and what education leaders are doing to prepare

As the number of reported cases of the COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, continues to mount in the U.S., here are five things education reporters should keep in mind when covering the health crisis and its impact on schools and colleges. (This post will be periodically updated as circumstances warrant.)

Seminar

72nd EWA National Seminar
Baltimore • May 6-8, 2019

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.

Seminar

71st EWA National Seminar
Los Angeles • May 16-18, 2018

EWA 71st National Seminar Los Angeles graphic

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This multiday conference provides participants with top-notch training delivered through dozens of interactive sessions on covering education from early childhood through graduate school. Featuring prominent speakers, engaging campus visits, and plentiful networking opportunities, this must-attend conference provides participants with deeper understanding of the latest developments in education, a lengthy list of story ideas, and a toolbox of sharpened journalistic skills.

EWA Radio

“Rewarding Failure”: Education Week Investigates Cyber Charters
EWA Radio: Episode 107

Reporter Arianna Prothero discusses Education Week’s eight-month investigation of online charter schools,  including how some companies aggressively lobby states to craft regulations that allow them to flourish despite spotty records on student achievement. Why do some students opt for this kind of alternative publicly funded education? What do we know about attendance, academic achievement, and school quality in cyber charters? Who are the big players in the cyber charter industry, and how much is known about their policies, practices, and profits?

Prothero answers these and other questions and shares story ideas for local reporters covering online charter schools in their own communities.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Post

The New Frontier For Advanced Placement: Online Ap Lessons, For Free – The Washington Post

The explosion of free online education, known mainly for targeting adults, is reaching ever further into high schools.

On Wednesday, a new sequence of lessons for high school Advanced Placement courses in calculus, physics and macroeconomics went live on a free Web site founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The lessons, developed by Davidson College for the site called edX, represent a new step in the evolution of ties between the popular AP college-level program and the “massive open online courses” known as MOOCs.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Students, Teachers Don’t Study The Way Science Says They Should

Henry Roediger listens as Bror Saxberg answers a reporter's question at EWA's 68th National Seminar in Chicago. (Photo credit: Mikhail Zinshteyn/EWA)

Most students don’t study using methods backed by scientific research, panelists at the Education Writers Association’s deep dive on the science of learning told reporters in Chicago at the association’s 68th National Seminar.

“Why do people find learning so hard?” asked Henry Roediger, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who participated in the April event.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Are Video Games Good for Kids?

Riding the subway to work the other day, I glanced over at the commuter next to me, tapping away on his smartphone. But he was not texting. Clad in jacket and tie (and earbuds), he was engaged in virtual hand-to-hand combat.

In the digital game, he was Spider-Man, battling some muscle-bound monster or alien — lots of kicking and punching, and finally K.O. flashed on the screen.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

More Schools Turning to Online Fundraisers

A teacher in Muskegon Heights, northwest of Grand Rapids, Mich., is seeking $239 to buy her students headphones. (DonorsChoose.org)

A couple of recent stories highlight schools turning to online fundraising to provide students with everything from basic classroom supplies to long-distance field trips. 

Nicole Dobo, who covers blended learning for The Hechinger Report, looked at how more easily accessible (and transparent) online sites such as DonorsChoose.org are giving teachers a way to make direct appeals for help:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How One Charter Group Took a Start-Up Approach to Teaching

Classroom with Chromebooks Flickr/kjarrett (CC BY 2.0)

At Summit Public School: Denali, young learners do it differently. Most of the students at this Bay Area-area school complete their coursework on school-issued Chromebooks, where they access a portal to online videos, assigned readings and interim assessments they take at their own pace. It’s a competency-based approach to proving they have mastered the subject at hand. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

SXSWedu: Education Ideas ‘Big and Bright’ in Austin

I’m in Austin for the next few days at the SXSWedu conference, which will bring together big thinkers, educators, and entrepreneurs to talk about latest philosophies, approaches, and technology reshaping the business of schooling. I’ve packed my boots, my trendy glasses, and plenty of extra notebooks that I fully expect to fill up with Big Ideas. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Will Online Khan Academy ‘Educate the World’?

EWA’s 66th National Seminar, held at Stanford University, took place earlier this month. We asked some of the journalists attending to contribute posts from the sessions. The majority of the content will soon be available at EdMedia Commons. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a few of the posts, including the ones from our keynote sessions. Justin Pope, higher education reporter for the Associated Press, is today’s guest blogger.

Multimedia

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 4: Information Overload, College Costs and Education as a Civil Right

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 4: Information Overload, College Costs and Education as a Civil Right

From the Education Writers Association 2013 National Seminar, a discussion between Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tom Friedman (New York Times) and Stephanie Banchero (Wall Street Journal). Filmed at Stanford University.

During the Q & A portion of his talk, Friedman fields questions on the pitfalls of online education, being overwhelmed by information, and how technology might offset rising tuition costs.

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A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 3: Modern Career Opportunities, Fear of Technology and Reasons to Be Optimistic

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 3: Modern Career Opportunities, Fear of Technology and Reasons to Be Optimistic

From the Education Writers Association 2013 National Seminar, a discussion between Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tom Friedman (New York Times) and Stephanie Banchero (Wall Street Journal). Filmed at Stanford University.

In part 3, Friedman discusses how young people are faring in the job market and how U.S. schools compare with their international counterparts.

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A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 2: Missing the Point on MOOCs, Cost vs. Value in Higher Ed and the ‘401(k) World’

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 2: Missing the Point on MOOCs, Cost vs. Value in Higher Ed and the ‘401(k) World’

From the Education Writers Association 2013 National Seminar, a discussion between Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tom Friedman (New York Times) and Stephanie Banchero (Wall Street Journal). Filmed at Stanford University.

In part 2, Friedman talks about the boom in Massive Open Online Courses, the role of teachers in increasingly tech-focused classrooms, and the importance of motivation in a world of defined contributions.

Key Coverage

State Systems Go MOOC

Universities from New Mexico to New York will join Coursera in a sprawling expansion of the Silicon Valley startup’s efforts to take online education to the masses.

Multimedia

National Leadership Summit for Online Learning

The National Leadership Summit for Online Learning, organized by iNACOL, was held in February 2012. This video archive lets you view most of the discussions held there, including “It’s All About Teaching and Learning” and “The Disruptive Innovation.”

Organization

The National Education Policy Center

The National Education Policy Center has issued a series of papers on online learning, questioning, in particular, the effectiveness of online charter schools. The center is headquartered at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education.

Organization

The Innosight Institute

The Innosight Institute is a think tank co-founded by Harvard Business School guru Clayton Christensen. Their education research aims to apply Christensen’s  “theories of disruptive innovation to develop and promote solutions to the problems of education” with a particular emphasis on blended learning and online education.

Organization

The National School Boards Association

The National School Boards Association is a nonprofit organization that works with federal agencies and other national associations to influence education policy as it pertains to school boards.

The Association has been particularly vocal on issues of the quality of the academic programs some cyber charters offer, citing in a report from May 2012 a “troubling” lack of “good information about results and accountability.”

Key Coverage

Disrupting Class

This blog from writer Michael Horn, a co-founder of the nonprofit think tank Innosight Institute, follows the various ways that technology is shaping education reform.

Key Coverage

What You Need to Know About MOOC’s

Colleges and professors have rushed to try a new form of online teaching known as MOOC’s—short for “massive open online courses.” The courses raise questions about the future of teaching, the value of a degree, and the effect technology will have on how colleges operate.

Key Coverage

California Bill Seeks Campus Credit for Online Study

Legislation will be introduced in the California Senate that could reshape higher education by requiring the state’s public colleges and universities to give credit for faculty-approved online courses taken by students unable to register for oversubscribed classes on campus.

If it passes, as seems likely, it would be the first time that state legislators have instructed public universities to grant credit for courses that were not their own — including those taught by a private vendor, not by a college or university.

Key Coverage

For-Profit Woes Means Less Work for Adjuncts

One of the big draws of online education is that it can be easily untethered from the traditional semester schedule, with online universities often offering new classes 52 weeks a year. But while they are convenient for students, and profitable for institutions, rolling starts for classes can mean flimsy job security for the adjunct professors who teach them.

Key Coverage

Davos Forum Considers Learning’s Next Wave

Education has long played a part in the annual deliberations at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But this time, many participants may have detected what Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s president, described as “a lot of attention.”

Key Coverage

Quality Control a Challenge for Virtual Ed.

As online learning has entered the mainstream—with roughly a third of the nation’s high school students enrolled in at least one online course, according to a report released in June 2011—more states have created policies, procedures, and even organizations for evaluating the quality of such courses and other online content available to students. But instituting those quality-control measures is not without challenges.

Key Coverage

Districts Require E-Courses for Graduation

In the 105,000-student Memphis city school system in Tennessee, officials were also concerned about making sure every student had the access needed when the district decided two years ago to require students to take an online course before graduation. The district got creative, said Cleon L. Franklin, the director of instructional technology. It provided computer-lab time before and after school and coordinated with community organizations, such as libraries, to make sure students could use computers there.

Key Coverage

Reflecting on a Year of Blended Learning

This column from a coordinator of New York’s iLearn NYC program — a blended learning initiative throughout the public schools — notes “that blended learning that is not managed ethically can be damaging, but that strong teachers can use blended learning to help all students in new ways.”

Key Coverage

Virtual Education Seen Lacking Accountability

Full-time online schools have gained 50,000 more students in the past year alone, bringing the total number of students taking part in such virtual learning environments up to 250,000,” according to this article, which looks at a report from the National School Boards Association.

Report

Education Reform for the Digital Era

This report from an education reform advocacy group notes that “For digital learning to fulfill its enormous potential, a wholesale reshaping of the reform agenda itself is required, particularly in the realms of school finance and governance.

Key Coverage

Are Virtual Schools a Sham?

This column by Anne Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association, argues that “A few common-sense ground rules must be in place if online learning and virtual schools are to work well.”

Key Coverage

E-Schools Put Specific Measures for Success in Place

From the article: “Virtual schools, particularly those that provide full-time services for students, are coming under increasing scrutiny over student achievement and accountability. Several reports in recent months have questioned everything from the transient nature of virtual student populations to the integrity of student work and the lack of comparisons between online and face-to-face learning.

Key Coverage

Education Week’s Technology Counts 2012: E-learning Turns Toward District-Level Approaches and a Focus on Accountability

The annual series from Education Week examines developments in the online education front. The 2012 report determines that “as e-learning moves further into the K-12 mainstream, it is also attracting closer scrutiny from educators, policymakers, researchers, and the news media. Questions about its effectiveness are being asked more often by a growing cadre of critics, and even advocates concede that the e-learning movement needs to take a harder look at putting better accountability measures in place.”

Report

The Digital Learning Imperative: How Technology and Teaching Meet Today’s Education Challenges

This report from an advocacy group discusses how school districts can use online education to confront the challenges posed by budget restrictions, teacher quality and demands for improved student learning. It asserts that “digital learning” can be most effective when “teaching, technology, and use of time” are well balanced.

Key Coverage

Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools

“The growth of for-profit online schools, one of the more overtly commercial segments of the school choice movement, is rooted in the theory that corporate efficiencies combined with the Internet can revolutionize public education, offering high quality at reduced cost,” the article notes. But an analysis of one company’s operations “raises serious questions about whether [it] — and full-time online schools in general — benefit children or taxpayers, particularly as state education budgets are being slashed.”

Key Coverage

Mature Market for Online Education

The market for online higher education aimed at adults may be reaching maturity, according to a new report from Eduventures. And without a better-defined product, the report’s author said online learning faces a risk of petering out and being little more than a back-up alternative to on-campus education for students.

Report

Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning

This report “provides an overview of the latest policies, practices, and trends affecting online learning programs across all 50 states.” This series of reports from an education consulting group commissioned by various organizations have been published annually since 2004, making them a helpful resource for tracing the growth of online learning in recent years.

Report

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies

This report was one of the first major analyses of the effectiveness of online learning and remains one of the most influential. It “found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The difference between student outcomes for online and face-to-face classes… was larger in those studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to-face.