Bill requiring online learning component for students in Legislature


A couple of weeks ago I posted a heads up on several possible broadband issues in the legislature. I hadn’t heard too much more about any of them –  but I just found an update on S.F.1528: Teachers 21st century tools; students online course encouragement; online learning advisory council provisions modifications (House companion is H. F. 2127)

According to the Northfield News

Rep. Pam Myhra (R-Burnsville) and Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) sponsor a bill, which would require students graduating in 2017 and later to receive one digital learning course credit. Though the subject matter could vary from English to economics, the method of instruction would need to be based in technology.

The full House passed the bill by a vote of 96-32 and sent it to the governor. The Senate passed the bill 53-11 March 15.

Sounds as if there are a couple concerns about the bill. First, there is concern that this is an unfunded mandate. The other objection caught my eye…

Others worried low-income school districts, especially those in rural areas where broadband access is less common, would be unable to meet the standards.

This shouldn’t be a problem since the Legislature passed the broadband bill in 2010 that says we’re shooting for ubiquitous broadband (10-20 Mbps down and 5-10 Mbps up) and shooting to be world class users of broadband. Access to computers may be another thing – but there is a section in the proposed bill that addresses that…

An online learning student has the same access to the computer hardware and education software available in a school as all other students in the enrolling district. An online learning provider must assist an online learning student whose family qualifies for the education tax credit under section 290.0674 to acquire computer hardware and educational software for online learning purposes.

I like the idea that it pushes every school to prepare to offer digital learning. And I like to think that each student will have an opportunity to learn online. I’d like to see it offered early on in school. Because while online learning isn’t for everyone, I think it can be a game changer to some kids, who may learn better online (maybe simply because they enjoy it more).