The California Learning Resource Network (CLRN), a state-funded technology project that reviews online courses, conducts an annual eLearning Census to take the online and blended learning temperature of California’s public school districts and direct-funded charters. After building a database of more than 1000 school districts and 763 direct-funded charter schools, we began contacting them on March 1st, to report both online and blended student populations, courseware selection, and blended models in use. These results are from 516 district and charter schools, representing 29% of the overall population. Our 2013 Census report, Between the Tipping Point and Critical Mass, may be downloaded from clrn.org/census.California eLearning CensusMarch 1, 2013 – May 1, 20131777 K-12 districts & direct-funded charters1014 + 763 (43% charters)Results from 516 districts (29%)
While charters make up 43% of all school entities, just 28% of our responses came from direct-funded charters. Census data from locally controlled charters is included in district data and was not separated out. Direct-funded charters, though, are independent entities controlled by their own governing board. In addition, we’ve disaggregated data from both elementary (K-8 or K-5) institutions and unified school districts (K-12 or 9-12) institutions.
While we do not have a breakdown of the total elementary districts and charters in California, we can state that the 2012 census included 56% K-12/9-12 districts and charters, while in the 2013 census, both elementary and unified districts are split fairly evenly. Because of the inclusion of more elementary districts and charters, this year’s results may be lower than reality.263 K12 districts253 K-8 districts
So, how many districts are implementing online learning? We found that 46% of all districts and charters indicated they were using some form of online or blended learning. While last year’s data indicated that we may have passed online learning’s tipping point, this year’s census seems to indicate that online and blended learning is firmly entrenched in California’s schools and that we are in the period between the tipping point and critical mass.
Are online and blended learning being adopted at different rates and in different modes at elementary and unified districts? In 2012, 16% of elementary districts reported students were learning online. In 2013, the number of districts and charters involved increased to 19%. However, in unified and high school districts, 68% learned online in 2012, while 73% reported online and blended students in 2013. 253 K-8 districts; 48 areelearning (19%), up from 16% in 2012263 K-12/9-12 districts; 191 are elearning (72%)
eLearning adoption even varies between charter schools and school districts. While last year’s adoption was fairly consistent between the two, in 2013, 53% of charters and 44% of districts indicated they were supporting eLearning.77 of 144 Charters elearn162 of 372districts elearn
If Districts and charters weren’t involved in eLearning, we asked them if they were currently discussing or planning to implement online learning. 26% shared they were currently in the planning stages72 of 273
However, unified and high school districts and charters are more invested in investigating online learning than elementary districts. Just 20% of (40 of the 201) K-8 districts that are not elearning, say they are planning to implement it, while 44% of the unified and high school districts and charters(32 of 72) are planning to implement online and blended learning.
Desire to implement eLearning is fairly equal between districts and direct-funded charter schools with slightly more districts in the planning process. 24% of direct-funded charters plan to implement eLearning as compared with 27% of school districts.
In 2013, 28% of districts indicated online or blended learning was taking place in grades K-5, 49% in grades 6-8, and 78% in grades 9-12.
Last year’s census indicated that most districts and charters are tiptoeing into online learning and the relative numbers of students involved in each district was low. That has begun to change, though, as districts and charters gain more experience. The 2013 census indicates that more students in each district are taking part in online and blended learning.Last year, 24% of all districts and charters had fewer than 20 students learning online, while this year that percentage has dropped to 13% indicating that districts are involving more students in online and blended learning. When totaling all eLearning students in the bottom 50 districts, we found just 542 students in 2012 while this year’s total is 887. 2012: 24% (41 districts) < 20 students online2013: 13% (26 districts) < 20 students online2012: Bottom 50 districts: 542 students2013: Bottom 50: 887students
Actual population numbers have increased too. In 2012, we counted 19,820 full-time online (virtual) students In 2013, those numbers increased to 24,383 virtual students. and 86,257 blended students.Last year, we counted just more than 86K blended students, but this year’s total is just under 100,882 blended students. This represents a 23% increase in the number of full-time virtual students and a 17% increase in blended learning.Virtual: 19,820 (N: 60 (50% district, 50% charters)Blended: 86,675 N:172 (75% districts, 24% charters)2013 Virtual: 24,3832013 Blended: 100,882
Average numbers of online students increased in all categories. Online and blended summer school attendance averaged 132 students, a 6j% increase; Virtual school averages rose from 98 to 139 students, a 42% increase; and the average number of blended students per district or direct-funded charter rose from 453 to 490, a 8% increase.
Median populations, though, are often more telling. The median, the point where half the districts have more than the number and half have less also increased in 2013.Last year, half of California’s districts and charters had more than 80 students blending their learning while this year the median rose to 100. Last year, the median number of virtual students was 56 full-time online students, but in 2013, the median blended population rose to 100 students. Both median populations increased 25% 2013. 2013: 69 districts reported full-time virtual students2013 Medians: Blended-100; Virtual -70
In 2012,the most popular blended model was Self Blend, which the Innosight Institute has just renamed the “Al la Carte” model, followed by the Enriched-Virtual, a model used by Independent Study schools in California. This seems to indicate that non-consumers, students who are using eLearning to supplement their transcript or schools that provide online courses not offered in the classroom, are a driving force.We also found that 31% of districts and direct-funded charters are utilizing more than one blended learning model.Self Blend: 60%Enriched-Virtual: 36%Rotation: 29%Flex: 17%
Of the four blended learning models, the most popular is the Self Blend, followed by Hybrid Virtual School, a model used by Independent Study schools in california. This seems to indicate that non-consumers, students who are using eLearning to supplement their transcript or schools that provide online courses not offered in the classroom, are a driving force.Census data reflects 31% of districts and direct-funded charters reported they are utilizing more than one blended learning model.Self Blend: 60%Enriched-Virtual: 36%Rotation: 29%Flex: 17%
In 2013, though, the Rotation method overtook the Self-Blend (46% to 40%) followed in third by Enriched Virtual.This year, 34% of districts and direct-funded charters reported they are utilizing more than one blended learning model.Self Blend: 60%Enriched-Virtual: 36%Rotation: 29%Flex: 17%
When separatingelementary and unified districts, though, we found that the predominate model in elementary districts was the Rotation method, followed by 80% of districts and charters. Just 15% of elementary districts indicated they were using more than one blended model.6 of 40 had two blended models in place.
In unified and high school districts last year, the predominate blended model was the Self-Blend followed by Enriched Virtual.
This year, though, the numbers flipped a little with 48% reporting using the Self-Blend, followed by the Rotation and Enriched Virtual models. 38% of these districts report using more than one blended model.
After reading the @ChristensenInst report, “Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive? An introduction of the theory of hybrids”, we felt a need to ask the next question, are charter schools disruptive? Are they more likely to promote the eLearning disruptive innovation or are they creating and implementing sustaining innovations? One is a hybrid, a temporary solution. One is revolutionary.So, we looked back into our 2013 California eLearning Census data to find out if charter schools are more disruptive than traditional school districts. The answer is not what you may think. The short answer to our question is “no”. Direct-funded charters are not more disruptive when it comes to online and blended learning. Whether comparing Enriched Virtual, Flex, or A La Carte, Unified and high school districts are actually implementing more disruptive technologies than charter schools. Of the four blended models, Rotation is a sustaining innovation that is implemented in traditional classrooms. While Rotation grew in this year’s eLearning census, traditional school districts seem to be more disruptive than their direct-funded charter competition.
While California’s schools purchase online courses from a variety of publishers and providers, the top four players are nearly the same as 2012: Apex Learning, Aventa, Cyber High and Odysseyware. We found it interesting that a substantial number of districts are creating their own courses.However, while 23% of districts purchased courses from more than one vendor in 2012, 46% of districts and charters utilized multiple publishers in 2013. This seems to both confirm virtual and blended learning’s expansion and districts’ willingness to select courses that meet the needs of specific populations.
OER resources, digital materials available for free or a very low cost from sources including Khan Academy and the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC), are helping districts add a digital component without investing in developing or acquiring content. Districts and direct-funded charters also indicated they are utilizing supplemental software/Internet resources or open source materials for online and blended learning in addition to or instead of licensed courses; 14% indicated they utilize two or more OER providers.
Districts creating their own courses or blending their learning primarily utilized the Kahn Academy, dominating at 87%, unchanged from 2012.
As the census drew to a close, we sent a supplemental survey to those districts that were purchasing courses, asking them about their selection process. When asked what factors they considered when selecting courseware, the top four choices were price, comparing courses to content standards, the U.C. A-G approved list, and examined course outlines. Sadly, few districts realize that by selecting from the UC A-G Approved courses, they’re also depending on CLRN’s certified course reviews.None10%Selected only CLRN Certified courses.3 6%Colleague recommendation17 32%Vendor demonstration2242%Data supplied by curriculum provider22 42%Examined course outlines2955%U.C. A-G list3260%Compared the course to the content standards32Price41 77%
What specific actions did districts and charters undertake before purchasing courses? While a few districts indicated they took no action at all, 23% asked for a demo account, 22% had the provider demonstrate the course to them and just 22% had their teachers sample courses?Demo Account 41Provider demonstration 39 Teachers sampled course 38Asked districts about experience 29Had students sample 18None 5
How wide did districts survey the landscape when investigating courseware? Nearly a quarter shared they investigated one or two publishers, while another 24% looked at three publishers. 52% of districts and charters investigated four or more publishers.
How many courses from each publisher did districts sample before purchasing? Sadly, 16% shared they looked at none or one online course before purchasing. 28% investigated two online courses, 17% looked at three, and 40% indicated they looked at four or more courses.
Who teaches online and blended courses at charters schools and districts? Nearly three quarters of all districts and charters (74%) shared that their own teachers conduct online and blended courses, while 14% utilized a provider’s teachers. 11% of districts and charters use a combination of provider and district teachers.
Given that teaching online requires a different skill-set than classroom teaching, we wanted to know if online and blended teachers had been provided professional development specific to how to teach online. Just 22% of districts and charters provide no teacher training to online and blended teachers.
Finally, we enquired about the learning management systems districts are using to host online or blended courses. While most publishers or providers provide their own LMS, we found a significant number of districts were using Edmodo, followed by Moodle or it’s variations and Haiku. Not far down the list, surprisingly, are district created learning management systems.
CLRN created the California eLearning Census to track both the growth and variety of online and blended learning in California. One of our motivations was Clayton Christensen’s and Michael Horn’s book, Disrupting Class, which predicted that online and blended learning would reach a tipping point in 2013 and that by 2019, 50% of all high school courses would be online. Our second annual census indicates a definite increase in both numbers and usage. Whether it’s the 25% increase in median populations or the 17% increase in total population; whether it’s knowing that nearly half the districts are selecting courseware from more than one publisher as compared with just 24% last year; or whether it’s the increase in average population or the distribution of blended models, online and blended learning are firmly entrenched in California’s schools. We’re now in the period between the tipping point and critical mass where eLearning will continue to grow, evolve, and mature. CLRN is here, helping to improve online and blending courses by reporting how they meet the Common Core State Standards, California’s other content standards, AND iNACOL’s national standards for quality online courses. Our partnership with the University of California ensures that no online course will receive approval for their A-G requirements unless CLRN has reviewed and certified it. CLRN”s reviews may be found at CLRN.org.
California eLearning CensusBetween the Tipping Point andCritical Masshttp://clrn.org/census/
2013 ResponsesMarch 1 – May 1516 Responses 29% of 1777144 Direct-Funded Charters372 Districts263 K-12/9-12 Districts/charters253 K-5/K-8 Districts/charters
2013:Self-Built Courses and OER0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140ThinkfinityOER CommonsNROCMIT Open CoursewareKahn AcademyiTunes UniversityHippocampusCLRN87%
What factors did you considerwhen selecting courseware?0 10 20 30 40 50NoneSelected CLRN Certified courses.Colleague recommendationVendor demonstrationData supplied by providerExamined course outlinesU.C. A-G listCompared to content standardsPrice 77%60%60%55%42%42%6%
District Actions Taken BeforePurchasing Courses0 10 20 30 40 50None of the aboveHave your students sample thecourse?Ask other districts who use the courseabout their experience?Have your teachers sample thecourse?Have the provider demonstrate thecourse to you?Ask for a demo account? 77%74%72%55%34%9%
How many publishers/providersdid you investigate?1234 or more52%24%15%9%
How many courses from eachpublisher/provider did youinvestigate?01234 or more40%17%28%8%8%
Where Do Teachers Come From?DistrictInstructorsProviderInstructorsBoth75%14%11%
Do Online Instructors ReceiveOL/BL Professional Development?NoYes22%