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MARKETING 101: Using distance learning to train those in special circumstances

October 2010
By: Jerry Thacker

Many researchers, political officials, and educators now believe that technology will play a large part in meeting the three major challenges facing our educational systems in the near future: huge funding issues, extreme personnel issues, and the need for rapid training of students to meet the challenges of world-class economic competition.1 (Wise, 2010)

Current public school, Christian school, and homeschool models of teacher training and provision, content delivery, and school funding are already starting to undergo change. Last year, more than 1.3 million students enrolled in cyber/virtual education and more than 750,000 public school students took online courses. (Collins, 2009) What is more important, however, is the effectiveness of online studies. The U.S. Department of Education released a meta-analysis and review of literature of 51 online learning studies in 2009. The overall results of the 'meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction' (U.S. Department of Education, 2009, p. ix). The study looked at studies comparing both online and blended learning environments to the face-to-face learning environment. In the studies focused on blended environments and face-to-face instruction, "blended instruction has been more effective, providing a rationale for the effort required to design and implement blended approaches" (U.S. Department of Education, 2009, p. xvii). (Patrick, 2009)

We believe there is still plenty of room for emerging models that are just starting to be discussed that may be housed in homes, community buildings other than schools, and even in church buildings that go unused for most of the day Monday through Friday of each week. The net result increasing educational choice to our society will in all probability be a better-educated citizen who is more ready for life in the 21st century.

One of the main reasons distance learning is being used is to provide for the needs of students who may not fit into a traditional school model. This includes those who have special educational needs, particular physical needs, or may not be best served by a public school cultural venue.

Most of these virtual charter schools are utilizing public school curricula and teachers coupled with the latest technology as a means of providing K-12 education.

Since the funding for the schools is driven by the students'/parents' choice of the educational modality, all books, computers, and even online service provider fees are usually provided by the school district in which the student resides.

To find out what is available in your state and which may benefit your clients in continuing their education through their crisis pregnancy and perhaps even graduating from high school with a diploma, visit http://www.nacol.org.

Jerry Thacker, B.A., M.A., is President of Right Ideas, Inc., and Publisher of At the Center. He can be reached at contact@rightideas.us.

Endnotes

1. Wise, B., Rothman, R. (2010) The Online Learning Imperative: A Solution to Three Looming Crises in Education, Alliance for Excellent Education, Washington, D. C., 1+

Collins, A., Halverson, R. (2009). Rethinking Education In The Age Of Technology, Teachers College Press, New York, NY 4+

NETP, Office of Educational Technology, U. S. Department of Education, National Educational Technology Plan, downloaded from www.ed.gov/technology April 20, 2010.

Patrick, S., Powell, A. (2009) A Summary of Research on the Effectiveness of K-12 Online Learning, International Association for K-12 Online Learning Vienna, VA, 4+



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