Before distance learning and elearning, students in rural school districts were often at a great disadvantage when it came to subjects being offered. A small school district sometimes didn’t have the resources to attract teachers that were in high demand.
Math, science and foreign language classes were often limited because of this shortage. Today, distance learning and elearning have changed the way school districts determine class schedules, making many more opportunities available to students.
Public schools have changed dramatically over the past century and a great number of those changes can be put down to two factors – state and federal mandates governing the classes that must be offered and requirements for graduation, and (of course) the ever-increasing world of technology.
Computers have made the world a global neighborhood in which anyone can instantly communicate with those from another country, even if that country is half way around the world. Language and time differences are virtually the only barriers. This means that distance learning and elearning are a part of the curriculum of many schools.
As schools began to connect to the Internet, the immediate concern in most cases was how to regulate the use. The next was how to best use the technology to benefit school districts and students. Distance learning and elearning became the way to provide options, especially in those rural districts that couldn’t meet state mandates.
Consider the situation of many smaller, rural schools. If the school is required to offer a foreign language but can’t recruit a teacher, what should happen to that school? Forced consolidations have been common in some states. Students lost the benefits of schools in their own towns and faced long bus rides to new districts.
With distance learning and elearning, more schools can meet the state and federal mandates to offer specific classes.
Consider yet another situation. A smaller district has four students who show great promise in their math studies and it’s quickly apparent that they could go well beyond the normal math classes offered in high school.
There’s no one on the teaching staff capable of teaching those advanced concepts and it’s financially impossible to hire someone for that task alone. Distance learning or e- earning could provide those classes.
Special needs children are another group to greatly benefit from distance learning and elearning. While many issues can only be dealt with between teacher and student, face-to- face, there are many things that can be taught and learned online.
Whether the subject of distance learning or elearning is a foreign language or sign language, and whether the class or courses are being offered to one student or the entire student body, distance learning and elearning have become an important tool for many public schools.
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