Digital learning in K-12 schools is growing at an impressive rate as more parents, teachers and schools are understanding the benefits of (in the words of Gov. Rick Snyder) "any time, any place, any way, any pace" learning models. The Mackinac Center released a report earlier this year on the topic and has been hosting public forums all around the state to help educate the public on the powerful potential of individually customized learning.
A new report from the Evergreen Education Group called "Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning" shows that digital learning is growing strong in Michigan. For example, the number of course enrollments at Michigan Virtual University increased to 17,700 this year, up 18 percent from 2009-2010. The Genesee Intermediate School District's program, "GenNET," saw even greater growth: Course enrollments almost tripled, increasing from about 4,000 in 2009-2010 to 11,757 in 2010-2011. The report makes note of the 800 students enrolled full-time in Michigan's arbitrarily capped online public charter schools.
The "Keeping Pace" report also outlines common cost structures for full-time online schools, and estimates that these schools typically cost about $6,500 per pupil to operate annually. The Michigan Legislature is currently considering removing the arbitrary cap on the number of full-time online schools and their enrollments, and these costs estimates should be useful in that legislative debate as some politicians have proposed significantly reducing per-pupil funds for these schools.