As technological advances increasingly affect the education of students from kindergarten through high school, questions linger about the best ways to employ technology and integrate online learning. While most Texas students still attend “brick and mortar” schools, a certain number are choosing online learning — both fully online schools and individual online courses combined with traditional classroom learning.
The Senate Education Committee this week heard testimony on the ongoing implementation of legislation enacted in 2013 to address online learning in Texas schools. The hearing focused on provisions in HB 1926 to:
- allow private entities and nonprofits to offer courses on the state network of supplemental online courses;
- increase information available to prospective students about specific courses; and
- study the sufficiency of broadband access at districts across Texas.
Proposals to expand online learning opportunities have generated discussion on the costs to school districts and the state, the suitability of online instruction for every student, and the degree of discretion in course selection that should be provided to students and local school districts. The availability of technology resources, student success in online courses, and how the courses are funded also could affect future decisions about online education. For more on these issues, the history of online education in Texas, and related legislation considered by the 83rd Legislature in 2013, see the recent House Research Organization focus report, Online Learning: Trends in K-12 Education in Texas.