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Demand for online learning increases

Number of high school students learning online triples in three years, survey shows—but there is still 'untapped potential'

More than 40 percent of students now designate online classes as an essential component of their learning experience.

In just three years, the number of high school students who have access to online learning has tripled, while twice as many middle school students are now learning online, according to a new report.

These figures come from the nonprofit group Project Tomorrow and its most recent Speak Up survey on school technology use. Project Tomorrow first released data from its this survey earlier this spring, but the organization has teamed up with learning management system provider Blackboard Inc. to dig deeper into the results that pertain to online learning.

Project Tomorrow and Blackboard issued a report on these findings during the International Society for Technology in Education’s annual conference June 28.

More than 40 percent of students now designate online classes as an essential component of their learning experience, with administrators and parents also becoming more supportive of this vision, the report says. In two years’ time, 39 percent more administrators and five times as many parents have incorporated online classes into their vision for the ultimate school.

While support for online learning has grown, so, too, has the untapped student demand for online learning as part of their ultimate school. One-third of middle and high school students say they are interested in taking an online course but have not yet, and 30 percent of third through fifth grade students say they’d like to take an online course, according to the survey.

“Online learning is transformative. We are just starting to see a generation rising through middle schools that demand online learning and have a clear insight into how it can change the future of education,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow. “These students are moving online learning beyond the basic learning paradigm and taking ownership in their learning process—creating an engaging, personalized, and collaborative learning environment.”

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