Online learning offers a lifeline--especially for rural schools, according to a recent study that also predicts "blended learning" could be the way most students learn in the future.

The Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) study, called "K-12 Online Learning," is a follow-up to the group's 2007 report, which was one of the first studies to collect data about online and blended learning in K-12 schools. The new study, released in January, is based on information gathered from more than 800 U.S. school systems during the 2007-08 academic year.

According to the study, three-quarters of responding school districts had at least one student enrolled...

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