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December 10, 2021

3 min

Dr. Jessica Spallino

Best Practices In K-12 Online Learning

Why Online Learning?

Online learning is one of many learning modalities that has been used in various forms of education throughout the past twenty years. Either as part of a traditional classroom environment or as the primary delivery of curriculum and instruction, online learning continues to be a flexible and effective modality for many students and educators. Long before the Covid-19 pandemic shifted students toward online or hybrid school options, virtual education was thriving, and enrollment was growing each year.

The most common applications of K-12 online learning are:

  1. Online programs used in traditional seat based classrooms whether in class or assigned as homework
  2. Online components as part of a hybrid alternative program (within a school district or as an independent private or charter school)
  3. Online school whose primary delivery of curriculum and instruction is online (either as a private or charter school)

There are a variety of reasons students and educators turn to online learning:

  1. To diversify the modality of learning
  2. Relief from lesson preparation
  3. Automation and reporting tools
  4. Need for a flexible learning modality
  5. Time allowance for special interest or lifestyle demand
  6. Diversion from the traditional modality of learning

Due to these needs combined with interruptions and departures from the traditional forms of teaching and learning, online learning continues to grow and refine the many ways it can reach all types of students in need.

Core Elements For Success

Ensuring growth for every student in online learning is a collective effort that requires diligence and the continuous development of new ways to support student success. The following key elements are critical in maintaining a trajectory for growth and success for every student learning in an online environment. The core elements listed below are explored in detail in our 2021 E-book Proven Best Practices in K-12 Online Learning:

  1. Multi-Leveled Instructional Support
  2. Developed Curriculum & Systems
  3. Student Centered Methodologies
  4. Teacher Development
  5. Strong Culture

If the online learning environment is a comprehensive school that primarily serves students in an online environment, these elements assist in ensuring the ultimate success and growth for every student.

As in any educational model, teacher support, rigorous curriculum, student focused methodologies, teacher development and a strong culture are incredibly vital to student success. These five components are equally critical in online learning and are more thoroughly discussed in the pages to come, will provide adaptations to each that account for a learning modality that is purely or partly remote.

Success can be achieved in an online learning modality if these five components are not only fully developed and implemented, but continuously refined based on ongoing student performance and outcomes.

In Conclusion

Online learning can be the right solution for many types of students with a variety of needs. Though it offers many benefits to both the teacher and the student such as developed content, flexibility and advanced reporting, it can also pose some challenges that require diligence and preparation.

Developing an online program that focuses on accountability, engagement and motivation and integrates the core elements of instructional support, developed curriculum, teacher development, student methodologies and a strong culture will be in the best position to help students and teachers reach success. When done right, online learning can be a personal and effective alternative to the one-size-fits-all model of education that has remained mostly unchanged for more than a century.


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