It may sound incredible, but with roughly 20 years passed since the World Wide Web came into worldwide use, that means that the oldest K-12 online schools and programs are now about, well, 15-20 years old. Keeping Pace with Digital Learning: An Annual Review of Policy and Practice (now in its 12th edition) has been around for a good chunk of that time, thus serving as a report that reflects a continuing change in the online and digital learning landscape, and specifically: emphasizing the users and suppliers of online learning, and this year, how their interrelationships help define the digital learning space (vs. state-by-state chronicling of activities). Keeping Pace this year includes a greater number of snapshots of digital learning activity to illustrate the how and why behind school and district implementation as well as the policies that shape them. The report shows how suppliers partner with schools to deliver online products and services, and highlight the breadth and depth of activity at the state, district, and school level. Looking back to some of that history aforementioned: Laurel Springs online private school dates to the early 1990s; the Virtual High School launched with a federal grant in the mid-1990s; the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) grew out of a Florida Department of Education grant to two districts in 1996; and several small district online schools, such as the Monte Vista online academy in Colorado, launched in 1997. “These pioneering online schools and programs paved the way for numerous others,” say the authors of the report, who are a close-knit team of researchers, industry representatives, and writers (scroll to page 2).
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