Technology is changing the way Americans live their daily lives, and when it comes to education, it’s opening up new and exciting opportunities for students, and at a rapid pace. A recent Gallup Poll has found that online education is rated best for value and options. Although sometimes viewed as education’s red headed stepchild, the truth is that online education provides access and options at all levels of education.
Online classes have made post-secondary education much more attainable in the United States. In the 2011-12 academic year, the average net cost for a full-time student attending an in-state public university was $15,000. A top school can cost upwards of $60,000 per year in tuition alone. This means that many Americans begin their post-educational lives severely in debt, leaving many with the question– is it worth it? For many, online education is the answer. This flexibility of scheduling and the affordability of online schooling puts a college education within reach of more students than ever before possible.
This educational option is not just for college. Many K-12 students around America are going to school online, too, and that number is growing by leaps and bounds. In the 2010-11 school year, 250,000 K-12 students engaged in online schooling. A decade earlier, that number hovered around 45,000.
School districts around America are in budget crises. Many are laying off teachers and expanding class sizes, leaving children with subpar educations. Remote learning can mean great financial benefit to schools. Online learning costs significantly less than the brick and mortar classroom approach. Traditional schooling costs around $10,000 per student, while fully virtual learning costs around $6,400. Some of that savings is lost in the cost of technology, but schools will still save money by having students learn remotely. Many cash strapped school districts are exploring options to bring online charter schools into their area in order to boost revenue and provide options for local parents.
Online schools give parents an alternative which allows their child to learn at home, and costs nothing above and beyond the taxes that they already pay for schools.
For many parents, this is a happy medium between traditional schooling and homeschooling. Some of these are independent schools, while some are run through local school districts. The benefits to students are clear, letting parents have more access to a child’s education and allowing children to learn at their own pace. “It gets away from groupthink, where learners have to move through grades at the same time,” says Kerry Rice, associate professor and interim chair of the department of educational technology at Boise State University. “That’s a benefit for young children.”
Online education means getting away from groupthink mentality, more parental involvement and control, and a savings to the school districts? No wonder it’s growing rapidly!