It’s no secret that schools are flocking to the internet to deliver education. What may be less obvious is how critical an online curriculum is to the learning process.
Simply put, an online curriculum is the linchpin of a school’s success online. And your school may be in more desperate need of an online curriculum than you realize.
Wondering if it’s time to make the jump to an online curriculum?
In this article, we dig into the six signs that indicate it’s time to move your school’s curriculum online.
Schools Are Rushing to Pick Up Online Curriculum
More than ever, schools are hurrying to pick up online curriculum. In 2020, COVID-19 has forced schools to pick up online learning on the fly. However, prior to the pandemic, school leaders were already creeping toward online coursework.
Before the pandemic sparked the need to physically distance, almost 60 percent of public high schools offered online coursework. What’s more, prior to the pandemic, the e-learning industry was already estimated to grow into a $375 billion market by 2026.
Although the recent events are convincing some education leaders to move online, the need for online curricula predates the pandemic. And it will continue to tug at school leaders long after COVID-19 is gone. The schools that recognize the need for online curricula now will be ahead of the game and prepped for better learning.
6 Signs It’s Time to Switch to an Online Curriculum
Wondering how to tell if it’s time for your school to make the leap to an online curriculum? There are some telltale signs to watch out for:
1. Student performance is lagging.
All educators want to see students learn, grow, and succeed in the classroom. Unfortunately, many traditional schools aren’t connecting with students in a meaningful way. One report recently found only one in four high school seniors is proficient in math, and even fewer are proficient in science.
Luckily, online curriculum has the potential to improve student learning outcomes. Research has found that e-learning can increase retention rates by 25-60 percent. With the right online curriculum, schools could start delivering more targeted instruction and improve learning.
2. Students aren’t getting personalized attention.
In crowded schools, it’s easy for students to miss out on the attention they need. It’s not the fault of instructors. After all, teachers can’t address every student individually at all times ... but technology now can.
Online curriculum that includes self-paced learning forms to fit the individual student’s learning needs. If they understand a concept, they can move on faster. If they struggle with more difficult subjects, they can receive more attention. These advanced online learning programs make it easier for instructors to pinpoint academic barriers and free them up to take more direct action.
3. Instructors are overwhelmed.
Across the nation, instructors are reporting that they are in over their heads in the classroom. Most educators realize they need to deliver personalized attention to students in order to break through. Unfortunately, most classrooms are simply too large for teachers to reach every student. That leads to stressed-out teachers and a frustrated staff.
An online curriculum could be the solution if it’s delivered the right way. Technology can now adjust to the learner and help fill the gaps in learning. In turn, it could lift the pressure to do everything for everyone off of the instructor and carve out time for them to help students more directly.
4. Administrators are struggling to access data.
The need to deliver educational content may get most of the attention, but access to student data directly impacts your school’s ability to improve learning outcomes. The first step in improving learning is seeing what’s available, what’s working, and what isn’t. If administrators are struggling to track down and access information about enrollment, student performance, teacher effectiveness, or other data, progress is nearly impossible.
Online curricula won’t just push students forward. If it's a quality curriculum, it will be measurable. Advanced online curricula now include built-in analytics and set the table for more efficient learning.
5. Counselors are scrambling to stay organized.
Counselors need easy access to organized student information in order to guide students effectively. Chances are, if they don’t have online tools, their day is being bogged down by extra frustrations.
When it’s paired with the right online learning system, an online curriculum will funnel into a platform that’s easy to access. When counselors have access to a trustworthy online curriculum, curriculum management tools, graduation planners, and clear student information, they can more easily keep students on track for graduation.
6. IT pros are overworked.
A school’s IT staff may work behind the scenes, but their behind-the-scenes work is what keeps the technology faculty and staff use to reach students working as it should. Alarmingly, many schools are caught in a technological limbo—hovering somewhere between online systems and in-person coursework.
Make no mistake, this setup can lead to nightmares for IT pros.
Too often, IT staff members are left trying to piece together incompatible programs. By switching to the right online curriculum—one that operates in an SIS+LMS integrated system—you can lift unreasonable burdens off of IT pros. Because they’ll be working with systems that are compatible with each other, they can spend less time scraping together impossible piecemeal solutions.
Tips for Making a Smooth Transition Online
If your school is contemplating a move online, it’s worth taking a minute to make yourself aware of some common pitfalls so you can avoid the headaches that come with them. Here are a few quick tips for making a smoother transition online:
Have a Ramp-Up Period
It may be tempting to jump into online learning immediately, but it’s always best to ease into things. No matter how simple an online learning platform is, there will be a learning curve. You can prepare staff and instructors by working in a ramp-up period. That way, users will be familiar with the platform before they start adding their own expert touches.
Make Sure You Can Document Results
Reporting is critical to refining processes and improving learning. That’s why, before picking up any online learning platform, it’s crucial to make sure it gives you easy access to student information. The best platforms will include built-in analytics; simple, exportable reports; and seamless access to transcripts.
As soon as a school moves online, their curriculum will be placed under the microscope—and for good reason. The danger of low-quality online curricula is so severe that the U.S. Department of Education has issued warnings about online “diploma mills.” Before picking up any online curriculum, double- and triple-check to make sure it’s credible.
Research how it has been used by other schools. The best curricula will help schools earn accreditation and be used to secure approval by major regulatory bodies, such as the NCAA and University of California.
Move Online with Trusted Curriculum
If you’re planning to move online, it’s critical that your school chooses an online curriculum that’s trustworthy. That’s why SmartFox K12 designed a curriculum and an online learning platform built for education leaders. Here are a few advantages of SmartFox’s curriculum:
- We provide custom online coursework you can trust
- It has been used to earn full accreditation from K-12 accreditors
- Public charters have used curriculum to create NCAA and UC A-G approved coursework
- Our platform includes self-paced learning, integrates with intuitive teaching programs, and features built-in analytics
Want to learn more about SmartFox K12’s online learning resources? We’re here to help your school succeed. Contact one of our distance learning professionals to learn more today.
About the Author
Mark is the co-founder of Method Schools and SmartFox and has been working in the marketing and finance areas of K-12 education for two decades. He holds a B.S. in Business from Utah Valley University and an MBA from Brigham Young University. In his spare time he’s usually on his mountain bike.