More than half—53%—of American adults are not aware that free public schooling exists online for kids in elementary, middle, and high school, according to a new poll released Thursday.
Harris Interactive found that 16% of adults ages 18 and older are "very" or "somewhat" familiar that schooling is offered online for elementary-aged children; 18% are aware of the possibility for middle-aged students; and 27% know about high school classes on the web.
But 64% said they are familiar with online higher education courses.
Some colleges, including Western Governors University, the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University, University of Phoenix, and Kaplan University, offer convenient digital degree programs for working professionals.
"There are lots of students for whom the brick-and-mortar school down the street isn't working. These online public schools are often the only choice they have," Ron Packard, CEO and founder of K12, told msnbc.
K12 is an online public school that educates pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students. Almost 500,000 students in 85 countries have used K12's curriculum since its establishment in 2000. There are about 130,000 U.S. students currently enrolled full-time in the program, while other adolescents approach it by blending both models--physically attending school a few days a week.
"The children who learn faster and learn more slowly are at a disservice," Packard said about traditional schooling. "Teachers can't wait for those children to master it. With online [classes], the student can take the amount of time he/she needs to learn that lesson."
But a child must be self-motivated in order to succeed with the Internet-based model, he added. It won't benefit adolescents if they don't engage with the material.
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