Just two weeks into the 2013 California eLearning Census, definite patterns regarding how online and blended learning are being utilized are emerging.
255 districts/charters have participated so far out of California’s 1777 school districts and direct-funded charters, which is a 14% response rate. (Our database includes 1014 school districts and 763 direct-funded charters.) While we expect to reach 30% or more, most of the trends established early in the census have been consistent from the beginning.
Tipping Point Confirmed
Last year, 45% of all districts & charters were utilizing online or blended learning, although the number of students per district were quite small. This year, 46% of districts are eLearning and I suspect the number will increase to the mid-50s by the end.
Of those districts not eLearning, 25% shared they’re currently in the planning process to implement online or blended learning.
Where is online and blended learning taking place?
As with the 2012 census, online and blended learning take place predominately in grades 6-12. 81% of high schools, 51% of middle schools, and 30% of K-5 schools are implementing online/blended learning. I find it interesting that of the 118 elementary (K-5 or K-8) districts that have taken the census, only 15% are implementing eLearning, meaning that Unified districts (K-12) and charter schools are more likely to incorporate online or blended learning in elementary or middle school classrooms.
Last year, no one was surprised that Self-Blend was the primary blended model, given that the online learning disruption began with “non-consumers”. Providing students a choice to take a world language, AP course, or credit-recovery course not offered by their district helped to drive the online revolution.
Now that online/blended learning has passed tipping point and is growing towards critical mass, we’re beginning to see some diversity. That the leading blended model in 2013 is “Rotation” doesn’t mean that districts have adopted the Rocketship model. It’s far more likely that Flipped Classrooms, one of Rotation’s variations, is the source of the shift.
Learning Management Systems: Open Takes the Lead
Many commercial online courses utilize a proprietary Learning Management System (LMS) created by the vendor, although several publishers use BlackBoard or BrainHoney for their back end. At school sites, though, there’s a different trend: open source. Currently, 37% of districts are using Edmodo for their LMS with Moodle or Moodle variations in second place. See a complete chart at the bottom of this post.
School districts are becoming more discerning about the courses they purchase. In our 2012 census report, we noted that 23% of districts & charters purchased courses from two or more providers. This year, 57% have indicated they are using online/blended courses from two or more publishers. With more districts implementing online or blended learning, districts may be more discerning about matching content to the needs of their students. Districts may also be recognizing that not all courses are equal or of high quality. It’s not unusual for publishers to have a mix of exceptional and average courses, so it’s even more important for districts to test drive the specific courses they plan to use.
For districts purchasing online courses, 26% are using Aventa, 22% Apex Learning, 19% K12, Inc, 16% OdysseyWare, 13% Pearson, 12% Cyber High, and 11% Plato.
For districts creating their own courses, the Khan Academy continues to dominate.
Where do teachers come from?
Who teaches students in online and blended courses? Only 20% of districts indicated that they use publisher-provided instructors. 70% of districts use their own teachers and 10% shared they use a combination of district and publisher instructors.
Are teachers prepared for an online/blended classroom?
When an instructor teaches an online or blended course, are they prepared? Have they received professional development in the differences between an online and face-to-face classroom? Do they have to tools to communicate with online students?
Surprisingly, 73% of districts say they’ve provided professional development, specific to online & blended learning, to their district teachers who instruct online courses.
Learning Management Systems