Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Senate Education Committee Approves Digital Learning Requirement for Students

The Senate Education Committee voted 8-1 today to approve the State Board’s proposed rule for students in the Class of 2016 to take two (2) online credits before graduating from high school. The Committee approved the rule based on the commitment that the State Department of Education and State Board of Education would work to run a new rule in 2012 removing the requirement that one of those credits be delivered asynchronously.

“We are grateful for the work of the Senate Education Committee, the Boise School District, Meridian School District, Idaho School Boards Association and Idaho Association of School Administrators for working together in a bipartisan way and supporting the online course requirement to better prepare Idaho students for postsecondary education and the workforce,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said after the vote.

The current rule requires students in the Class of 2016 to take two credits online, one of which had to be delivered asynchronously – where students move at their own pace. The other options are synchronous courses – courses delivered in real time through video teleconferencing or other means – or blended courses that combine face-to-face time and digital learning.

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee heard testimony from representatives of the Idaho School Boards Association, Boise School District and Meridian School District who said they would support the rule if the asynchronous requirement was removed. Superintendent Luna said Wednesday he would support the removal of this requirement, based on the feedback from local school districts.

The Committee voted 8-1 to approve the rule with the understanding that the asynchronous requirement will be removed in 2012 through a temporary rule.

Superintendent Luna on Tuesday reiterated in his testimony that digital learning is a critical skill of the 21st Century. 

“We know online learning is a critical skill in the 21st Century – whether students go on to an institution of higher education or the workplace,” he said during his testimony. “The vast majority of Idaho’s colleges and universities are now offering online courses to students, especially in the beginning years.  If students are going to take full advantage of the college experience, if students want to graduate in 4 years, they will be expected to take online courses.”

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