The Digital Learning Now law will expand online education's reach in Florida, preparing students for a technology-based future with such tools as a cyber crime degree and encouraging them to learn in ways other than traditional classrooms.
"Online courses help level the playing field so that every student can access a world-class education," Susan Patrick, president of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, told the Orlando Sentinel.
The state long has been a proponent of digital education, establishing the Florida Virtual School in 1997, which was the first state-run school of the kind in the country, the Orlando Sentinel said. The new law requires high-school students to take an online class to earn a diploma, expands options for elementary students and allows new virtual charter schools to open. It also expands FVS, which educates children around the world. Last year, more than 115,000 students in Florida took a class with FVS.
The push for digital education may be attributed to a desire to cut funds. FVS says it spends about $2,500 less per student over traditional schools because it doesn't have to maintain buildings, buses or athletic facilities, the Sentinel reported.