Distance learning makes a start in Delaware

December 4, 2011 by  

This fall, the Red Clay Consolidated School District of Wilmington, Delaware launched a distance learning program of seven classes being offered by the Conrad Schools of Science and the Alexis I. du Pont High School. According to Gregory Fulkerson, world languages and international education associate at the state’s Department of Education, this is just the beginning of the program with plans to expand it to cross district school lines and cover both the northern and southern parts of the state.

The Department is using printing services to create brochures and flyers to distribute to various school districts around the state to inform them of this new learning opportunity for students. Fulkerson had stated that schools are beginning to talk about this new program and hopes that the printed material will encourage them to take action.

Fulkerson also pointed out that sometimes smaller school districts do not have sufficient resources to offer such specialized courses as foreign languages and Advanced Placement and that distance learning may be a way for students to gain access to these courses. This comes at an important time in the state’s educational process as this year’s class of high school freshmen will be the first in the state that has as a graduation requirement two years of study in a foreign language.

Despite the potential benefits, there are several obstacles to overcome in establishing distance learning throughout the state. The Superintendent of the Red Clay School District, Mervin Daugherty pointed out that the technology is both sophisticated and expensive with each distance learning lab costing between $50,000 and $60,000 to set up. In addition, Fulkerson pointed out, schools have different starting and end times and period lengths and all these need to be synchronized in order for the program to work successfully.