Virtual Learning in Michigan

Michigan has a state virtual school, two virtual charter schools, several multi-district virtual programs, and a host of smaller, single-district online programs and schools. The state has traditionally been seen as a national leader in virtual learning. Michigan Virtual School was one of the first state virtual schools in the country. As recommended by former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Watkins in 2005,[30] Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006 signed into law a requirement that high school students take at least “[one] course or learning experience that is presented online” in order to graduate.[*] Although several states now offer more online learning opportunities than Michigan, the Center for Digital Education ranked Michigan second in the nation in online learning in 2008.[31]

[30] Tom Watkins, “Exploring E-Learning Reforms for Michigan: The New Education (R)Evolution” (Wayne State University, 2005), 50, (accessed Jan. 17, 2011).

[31] “Michigan Ranks Second in U.S. For Online Learning” (Michigan Department of Education, 2008), (accessed Sept. 23, 2010); Watson et al., “Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning: An Annual Review of Policy and Practice” (Evergreen Education Group, 2010), 18-20, (accessed Jan. 9, 2011).

[*] MCL § 380.1278a(1)(b)(i). An “online learning experience” is defined by the Michigan Department of Education as 20 hours of activities in which students “practice using technology tools, explore the virtual learning environment, and develop a competency operating in this space.” See “Michigan Merit Curriculum Guidelines: Online Experience”,  (Michigan Department of Education), 7-8, Online10.06_final_175750_7.pdf (accessed Jan. 17, 2011).