Vanessa Wren, director instructional technology at Granville County Schools, shares seven tips for educators and administrators when preparing a district online learning program


Single district online programs are the largest and fastest-growing segment of online and blended learning. There were an estimated 1,816,400 enrollments in distance-education courses in K-12 school districts in 2009-2010, almost all of which were online courses (Economics & Statistics, 2011).

Fueling the growth of district online learning programs are technology initiatives. School districts across the country continue to create technology enable learning environments by providing students and teachers with computing devices, often called one-to-one programs.

The expansion of technology in the hands of educators and learners has created an organic movement to online and blended learning. A natural progression to move content and leaning opportunities online once the technology infrastructure is in place to support anytime, anywhere learning. The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that as of October 2010, more than 68 percent of households used broadband internet access service (a four percent increase from 2009), and over 77 percent of households had a computer (Economics & Statistics, 2011).

Digital subscriptions, teacher sharing sites, and free web applications encourage the creation of interactive online content. As a result, districts have organically moved into developing online learning programs. Equity, engagement, and problem solving are often addressed though online learning and digital initiatives.

School administrators understand that access to a locally managed online learning program provides flexibility in scheduling, increased access to courses, professional development and the ability to be student focused. One rural public school district embarked on this journey in 2010 and has learned several lessons.

(Next page: District online learning program lessons learned 1-3)