Getting data on how many students are learning online–whether that’s virtually or in blended settings–continues to cause people heartache because it’s not easy to ask survey questions that capture the numbers accurately or mine the data in straightforward ways.

The California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) has created a survey for schools throughout California so that people can get a better handle on this important question in the state.

My friend Brian Bridges, director of CLRN, sent me the following text to explain what the survey is hoping to find and to encourage the right people in California to fill it out so we can get the information. I’ve taken the liberty of pasting in his sample blog post wholesale below:

How many students are learning online in California? Are school districts expanding their Independent Study and summer school programs to take advantage of virtual learning? Where is online learning taking hold and what models are districts using to weave online with classroom instruction? These are just a few of the questions the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) will soon ask of all school districts and direct-funded charter schools in California.

CLRN will launch the California eLearning Census March 1st to measure online learning’s growth and impact. Working in partnership with the Evergreen Education Group, primary author of the California eLearning Framework, census data will help inform educators and policymakers about online learning’s trends and rapid proliferation in California. Survey data will also be published in the October 2012 Keeping Pace, a national eLearning census and report of eLearning trends.

By March 1, 2012, CLRN will contact all county offices, school districts and direct-funded charters to request their participation. The eLearning Census asks districts to count the number of students who are taking all their courses online away from school as well as those who are learning online at a school campus. It will also track those districts that have integrated online learning in their summer school programs, have utilized virtual courses in their Independent Study programs, and have blended online learning with traditional instruction.

Working with CLRN to notify districts are local CTAP regions, which normally provide technology professional development and technology plan assistance to districts.

We’ve all see online learning’s dramatic growth the past few years as an increasing number of districts embrace it to meet their students’ needs. Collecting and reporting this growth in California is one way to demonstrate how quickly districts are adopting it, point out assistance county offices can provide, and help inform policy makers regarding regulations that need to be changed to facilitate and monitor the learning revolution.

California eLearning Census


  • Michael B. Horn
    Michael B. Horn

    Michael B. Horn is Co-Founder, Distinguished Fellow, and Chairman at the Christensen Institute.