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Survey reveals that Michigan adults support online learning in schools

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A strong majority of Michigan adults – 79% – feel that it is important for middle and high school students to have the option of enrolling in an online course at their local school district, according to a recent survey of Michigan adults. However, only 27% know Michigan has had a high school online learning requirement since 2006.

The survey – the first of its kind in Michigan – was led by Michigan Virtual and conducted by Public Sector Consultants to gauge support for K-12 online learning and to determine adult awareness of current education policies.

The survey of 800 people revealed a couple other themes:

  1. Michigan adults want trained teachers to be involved in online learning. Eighty-eight percent somewhat or strongly agreed that a Michigan certified teacher should be assigned to teach online courses.
  2. There is a general lack of knowledge about online learning. When presented with factual statements about online learning in Michigan, a third to one-half of respondents said they “didn’t know” if the statements were true or false.

Additional survey questions asked respondents for their level of agreement with seven statements about online learning in Michigan schools. There was strong agreement with each of the statements, with the strongest agreement among three statements:

  • Local school districts should provide adult support staff to help students who take an online course (65% strongly agree)
  • Any online teacher should be a certified teacher, even if they are certified in another state (64% strongly agree)
  • A Michigan certified teacher should be assigned to teach online courses (63% strongly agree)

“For more than a decade, Michigan’s elected officials have supported substantial changes in K-12 educational policies to enable unprecedented access to educational options and delivery models that meet the needs of individual students,” Jamey Fitzpatrick, Michigan Virtual President & CEO, said. “Unfortunately, too many adults in Michigan are not aware of these policies that foster innovation, equity of access and personalized learning.”

Increasingly, education, government and business leaders are recognizing the importance of K-12 students learning in online environments as they strive to become college and career ready. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed agree that knowing how to learn online is part of what it means to be college and career ready after high school.

Access to online learning in Michigan was strengthened in 2006 when Michigan became the first state in the nation to require an online learning experience prior to high school graduation. In 2013, the Michigan Legislature expanded student access to digital learning options through Section 21f of the State School Aid Act. As a result, students enrolled in a public local district or public school academy in grades 6-12 are eligible to enroll in up to two online courses during an academic term. Michigan is the seventh state in the U.S. to enable statewide choice at the course level through online learning options.

In 2012, the Governor and Michigan Legislature passed legislation requiring Michigan Virtual to establish a center for online learning research and innovation – Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute™ – and, through this center, directed Michigan Virtual to work on a variety of projects. The goal of Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute is to expand Michigan’s capacity to support new learning models, engage in active research to inform new policies in online and blended learning and strengthen the state’s infrastructures for sharing best practices.

The survey was taken at a time when the growth in online and blended learning in Michigan and across the nation appears to continue on the trajectory that has experts predicting that by 2019 over half of all enrollments will involve blended or online learning. An analysis of the 2013-14 school year data suggests that the number of virtual enrollments exceeded 300,000 in Michigan.

Public Sector Consultants conducted the public survey with 800 adult residents of Michigan in September to get their opinions about online learning opportunities for public school students in Michigan. The poll included 480 landline and 320 cell phone respondents and had an overall margin of error of +/- 3.5% at a 95% confidence level.

The complete survey report – Public Awareness and Views of K-12 Online Learning in Michigan – can be read at https://media.mivu.org/institute/pdf/publicsurvey14.pdf.

About Michigan Virtual
Michigan Virtual® is a private, nonprofit Michigan corporation established by the State of Michigan in 1998 to serve as a champion for online learning. It is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual for Students®, Michigan LearnPort® and Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute™.

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About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute®. As a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience, Michigan Virtual is Michigan’s leading voice in online education. Visit us at michiganvirtual.org.

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