Finding a School or Course
Considerations for K-12 Online Learning
on this page will help you discover schools and courses available
to New Hampshire students, along with some helpful hints
on selecting one that’s right for you.
Consider Your Options Carefully
In the recent past, online programs were mainly limited to colleges and universities. However, there has been a rapid and steady growth in online learning at the K-12 levels. If you invest a little time gathering information about the available online programs, you will most likely be able to find a good fit between an online program and your needs. Don't settle for the first program you come across. Do the work before you start. Request information from several programs that sound interesting to you and ask about the remaining considerations listed below. Your overall experience will be more rewarding and you will be least likely to come across unanticipated problems.
Consider the Accreditation
Online education can move you ahead in your career, but only if you attend a credible, accredited college or university. Accreditation is very important because it ensures that an institution meets or exceeds an established set of educational standards. Courses from an accredited online college are most likely to be transferable to other colleges and universities, and degrees from an accredited college are far more likely to be valued by both your current employer and prospective employers considering you for a position. Beware of accreditation claims. Many questionable "accrediting agencies" exist. Some are outright frauds, offering "accreditation" to any institution willing to pay a fee. While most colleges offering online education are wholly legitimate, beware of those that are not because there are some that exist. Your safest bet is to trust only accrediting agencies approved by the United States Department of Education.
Consider Your Long Range Goals
Be sure that the online program you are considering "fits" with your long range educational goals and plans. For example, if you are thinking about enrolling in an online program to do some coursework for credit recovery, find out if your school will accept credits from the program you are considering. If you take online courses and want to apply them to a college degree program later, make sure your coursework will transfer by asking for a list of colleges which have accepted such credits.
Consider the Class Size
Class size is as important in online education as it is in the traditional classroom setting. Investigate the program and find out what the average class size is at the institution you are considering. Too many students make personalized instructor contact just as difficult as it does in a traditional face to face classroom.
Consider the Instructor Quality
Find out about the faculty in the program that interests you. Ask questions about their experience and training. What degrees do they hold and from what institutions? What traditional teaching experiences have they had? How long have they been teaching? Have they had prior experience teaching online classes? Get answers. If more than one or two faculty hold degrees from the college at which they are teaching, be careful. It is often a bad sign.
Consider the Program Support Systems
How easy does the institution make it for you to contact your instructor or a tutor if you have questions or need help? The level of support offered to students varies considerably from program to program. Consider your options for support and choose a program in line with your needs and expectations.
Consider Your Class Schedule
One of the greatest advantages of online learning is that you can learn at your own time. While some programs are self paced and allow you to learn at your own pace, many programs are discussion based, which requires continual participation throughout the term of the course. Make sure that you are ready to put in the time and effort required for success in the online environment.
Consider Your Program Expectations
Be sure you understand whether a course, certificate, or degree program can be completed entirely online or whether on site projects, class meetings, or residency periods will be required. There are many models of online education. Make sure you understand the expectations for participation in the program you choose.
Consider the Financial Aid Availability
You may be pleasantly surprised by the financial aid, loans, and scholarships that are available for online programs. Many colleges and universities offer tuition installment plans which help make college more affordable. Ask about the availability of these programs at the online institutions you are considering.
Online Schools and Courses
New Hampshire's first, statewide, online high school, available free of charge for all high school students
eStart program for High School Juniors and Seniors
New Hampshire's Consortium Committed to Distance Learning, Telehealth, & Outreach
Online and Blended Learning for Middle and High School
Finding Quality Online Programs
The report,Online Degree Programs: How to Tell the Good From the Bad, from US News & World Report discusses ways in which students can assure that they enroll in a reputable online institution.
How to Find the Right Online Continuing Education School Program from WikiHow provides some guidance when selecting an online institution.
Defining Quality in Online Programs
iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Programs
The standards in this document address what is needed for a quality online program, elements of which include quality course design and quality online teaching. It is intended that these Standards for Quality Online Programs provide the encompassing and over-arching set of standards program leaders need to assure a quality online program.
International Association for K-12 Online Learning, October 2009
A Review of Paradigms for Evaluating the Quality of Online Education Programs
As the demands for public accountability increase for higher education, institutions must demonstrate quality within programs and processes, including those provided through online education. While quality may be elusive to specifically quantify, there have been several recommendations for identifying and defining quality online education that address common areas of program development and administration. This paper explores and compares 13 recommendations and paradigms found in the literature for identifying and evaluating the quality of online education programs in higher education.
Shelton, Kaye. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume IV, Number I, Spring 2011. University of West Georgia, Distance Education Center
Guide to Implementing Digital Learning
This resource is intended to provide guidance for districts to consider as they heighten their focus to ensure smooth implementation of digital learning. In addition, this resource includes proven resources and digital learning examples from across the nation to support discussions.
State Educational Technology Directors Association, 2015