What does online learning as an extension of the classroom look like?

This is a powerful question that should be considered as schools determine how to integrate technology into their curriculum.  Schools are considering diving into Learning Management Systems, Virtual Learning Environments, Content Management Systems, etc. to provide students with a means to continue the learning environment outside of the school day and the classroom.  Digital Learning Now! is committed to making certain that schools are integrating digital learning into schooling as a method of learning.  Their mission includes ten elements to Digital Learning: Student Eligibility, Student Access, Personalized Learning, Advancement, Content, Instruction, Providers, Assessment & Accountability, Funding, and Delivery.  These ten elements are crucial to consider when deploying technology and digital learning in schools and what lawmakers need to accomplish in order for this initiative to be successful.

Will Richardson’s post “‘Online Learning’ is Not ‘Learning Online'” sheds light on the integration of the above elements within an online learning environment.  In the interest of full disclosure, the list that Richardson quotes at the beginning of his post was my mindset when I first started my online program through the University of Illinois – mainly the two about working ahead and getting around a busy schedule.  Boy, was that so far from the truth.  Sure, online learning allows those attempting to learn online the convenience of doing so from within the confines of your own home or with access to a 3G network on a smartphone.  But, the real value is the personalized learning that can take place.  As an educator with many different interests, I am able to find my own resources, ask my own probing questions, answer my questions on my own and connect with colleagues from around the world!  The connections, conversations, and environments are what make online learning so different from the traditional format.  Through inquiry based learning models regarding the topic of study for the module and the constant search for new resources and answers to questions (part of what led me to this article), I have the ability to be my own search engine, fuel my own yearning for knowledge, and set my own path as I continue to develop my repertoire and skill set to be an agent of change in technology throughout my school and in my profession.

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