Of late, there has been quite a lot of debate surrounding online education and its effectiveness in delivering high quality education. Whether there is any truth to what is being said remains to be seen given the kind of hype and attention it has attracted in the recent past. Like it is with any new innovation, change is always met with skepticism. Sometimes, being extremely skeptical on account of underlying fears can have undesired consequences. Almost every new innovation will always face initial resistance by the audience it is meant for. However, there are many times when issues are blown out of proportion by the media fuelled by unwarranted fears. Online K-12 courses seem to have suffered a similar fate where a few selective cases have been overhyped by the media.

Hurdles Faced by E-learning platforms in the beginning:

When e-learning platforms were initially launched, they faced their first major hurdle – the “diploma mill” issue. Several schools sprung up all over the country claiming to provide students with modern, web-based solutions for their education. While their claims were based on actual implementations of such solutions, the ground reality for a few of them turned out to be quite different. They offered little in terms of overall development and the supporting resources they offered never really matched up to standards set by the government. Needless to say, government regulatory authorities swung into action and eventually these “diploma mills” were shut down. However, the negative impact of their actions eventually cast a shadow on legitimate and accredited virtual schools in the country.

That old adage about how one bad apple can spoil the rest seems extremely apt to describe this particular situation.Online High School has been in the limelight for failing to match up to educational standards set by federal and state governments. While these alternative learning solutions are usually offered by for-profit organizations, there is a vast difference in the quality of education provided by each school to its students. This depends on the kind of online resources the school provides to its students, the quality of its teaching faculty, the teacher-student ratio and several other factors related to support services for parents and students. Conventional schools are evaluated based on a wide range of different parameters. Depending on size, funding and a host of other factors, these schools are then clubbed up together into groups to enable an “apple-to-apple” comparison.

Quality of Education through Accreditation:

In a similar manner, avenues providing online K-12 courses to earn success need to be compared in the right manner. While achieving profitability is one of the goals, it is important to give the teaching faculty and learning methodologies equal importance. After all, you cannot compare schools based solely on their revenues and profit margins. The quality and standards of a school are judged based on the kind of accreditation’s it possesses, how qualified its teaching faculty is, the kind of infrastructure it provides, the technology it employs and the amount of training it imparts to its support staff. Of the many virtual schools certain schools have managed to establish a reputation for themselves by providing students with an e-learning platform employing state-of-the-art technology, and an exemplary education.

While it is easy to get carried away with all the media hype surrounding virtual learning platforms, it is important to note that not all platforms that provide online K-12 courses are the same. There are some that have immensely benefited students not just here in the United States but worldwide too. They provide students with self-paced environments that focus on holistic learning. With unparalleled flexibility, these learning solutions also serve as economic alternatives for those who cannot afford the rising costs of traditional education. Studying online provides students, including children with special needs, with an independent learning environment that allows them to learn the course material based on their own desired pace. They can stop worrying about falling behind with respect to their peers since their course modules are accommodated to cater to their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

More than just flexibility, virtual schools offer an entirely new methodology for imparting knowledge. With technological innovation rapidly changing the way we live our lives, being able to study online at any time and virtually from any place is another great advantage we can enjoy today. Conventional learning environments have always been limited by physical location and the availability of qualified teaching faculty. With education now moving online, students from any part of the country can now have access to teachers from any other part of the country. Certain schools also offer students from abroad access to their Common Core State Standard curriculum at very affordable tuition. Without having to travel to the United States, these students can now enroll with a world-class institution and secure their Online high school diploma at much more economical tuition fees.

In addition to a high degree of flexibility for students,online education also provides parents with multiple options to monitor their child’s progress and actively be a part of the entire educational process. Parents have access to the school’s teaching faculty as well as support staff via a plethora of options available via both online and offline modes. In an age characterized by hyperactivity, this can certainly prove to be invaluable to parents interested in being updated with periodic status reports about their child’s progress at school. With conventional schools, this can be time-consuming and tedious considering the need for parents to be present at school. Moreover, dealing with numerous parents at one go can certainly pile on the stress for teachers too. By communicating and scheduling meetings online, these technologically advanced platforms allow both parents and teachers to conveniently communicate with each other in an effective manner and work toward the common goal of the child’s education.

At the end of the day, no solution can be absolutely perfect. We employ the ones that help us derive the maximum benefits. Therefore, it is up to us to decide how we choose to use e-learning as an avenue for the holistic development of our children.