Can online learning work?

The U.S. Distance Learning Association (USDLA)’s new white paper “Enabled by Broadband, Education Enters a New Frontier” highlights the successes and growth of distance learning. The USDLA identified the following measures to be taken to advance online learning and opportunity:

Measure 1:Educators and education officials at every level, including the U.S. Department of Education, should move forward with the development of online-based curricula and the digital content to support them. They also should continue to evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches to online learning and to educate parents, students, teachers, and others about the benefits of online learning.

Measure 2:Policy makers at every level should review accreditation rules, teacher licensing requirements, copyright law, and other laws and regulations that may unintentionally undermine the effectiveness of online access to educational content and limit the use of digital technologies in the classroom. To the extent that it is possible, antiquated rules should be modified to eliminate unintentional barriers to online learning.

Measure 3: Makers of public policy should redouble their efforts to deliver broadband connectivity and the opportunity to enjoy online learning to every American. The universal deployment and adoption of broadband should be the first priority in national technology policy, and efforts to achieve this goal should include digital literacy and education initiatives that encourage late adopters to embrace broadband.

Measure 4: Makers of technology policy should explore measures, such as the creation of a universal broadband support fund, to enable the deployment and adoption of broadband in high-cost areas. Similarly, policy makers should avoid establishing rules, including unnecessary regulation, that can raise costs and make it harder for less affluent school districts and individuals to fully adopt broadband technology.