Summary of Online Learning Survey

W.Des.Moines-7031Districts and schools across the nation are providing multiple pathways of learning that include traditional classroom experiences as well as online and blended learning experiences. This is also occurring in Iowa and in the metro area. In West Des Moines Community Schools, our current offerings for online learning are very limited.  We have started an Online Learning Committee which is studying the topic and exploring options that would be most beneficial for our students.

Earlier this year, our study group conducted a survey with 6th grade thru 12th grade teachers to get a better understanding of concerns, attitudes, and beliefs about online learning.  Our committee created 10 different real life scenarios where online learning might be applicable to our district – and we asked our staff to respond to each of these scenarios.

Here are the 10 scenarios presented…

Scenario #1: A student is moving from VSW to Valley and wants to take a summer online course in a core area to jump from a traditional to an accelerated pathway at Valley. The student takes a summer online course for Valley core graduation credit.

Scenario #2: A student wants to graduate early and takes an online elective course to increase credits to meet the graduation requirements from VHS.

Scenario #3: A student did not pass a required course at VSW and would like to complete the course online to recover the credit. The student takes online courses developed and facilitated by a district teacher to make up the credit.

Scenario #4: A student did not pass a required course at VSW and would like to complete the course online to recover the credit. The student takes an online course offered outside of the district from an accredited institution (i.e. Iowa accredited high school or university accredited) to make up the credit.

Scenario #5 : A student attends VHS and is on track to graduate on time. He is enrolled in a course where he physically attends multiple times per week and the other days he is engaged in out-of-classroom learning (facilitated by the teacher) online. On the days he meets with the teacher he engages in explicit instruction, classroom dialogue, etc. During the out-of-classroom experiences, the teacher provides on-line support and further direction around learning.

Scenario #6: A student in sixth grade is advanced in mathematics. She is prepared to take Algebra I. She wants to remain in her elementary school to learn and take advantage of all school activities. Traveling between buildings will conflict with her ability to participate in her group music lesson. The student participates in an online class during her math class time. She will receive high school credit for successful completion of this course.

Scenario #7: A seventh grade student just finished taking algebra and wishes to take geometry in the summer in order to take Algebra II/Trig C in her eighth grade year. The student takes an online course that is offered through an accredited institution (high school or university). The student will receive high school credit for the coursework.

Scenario #8: A student in 9th grade failed components of a required Lang. and Lit. course needed for graduation. In order to recover that credit and missed learning, the student was assigned to the Success Center (academic support room) to work on a course through a program such as E20/20. The classroom teacher selected the learning opportunities that needed to be completed and the Success Center teacher provided the time and environment outside of the regular class time to complete the work. The work was then graded by the classroom teacher.

Scenario #9: A student came to the West Des Moines School District from a different district. The student has been moving around a lot during his/her 9th grade year and has earned no credits, but is old enough to be a 10th grader. The student will use an online learning program to take the 9th grade required classes while still attending his appropriate grade in high school. The content area teachers monitor and grade the learning with the assistance of the on-line program.

Scenario #10: A student in junior high is experiencing severe school anxiety. He has missed many days of school due to mental health concerns. The student will be able to return to school for the last semester. The student will finish all courses online. Content area teachers will monitor and grade student progress for these courses.


For each scenario, staff could respond with ” Not Supportive, Somewhat Supportive, Mostly Supportive, or Highly Supportive”.

One way to summarize the results is to tally the highly supportive percentages with the mostly supportive percentages – as highly and mostly would be considered supportive and the remaining responses would be considered not supportive.  Using this method, here’s the most supported scenarios…

70.9%     Scenario #5: Blended learning within the district.

70.2%     Scenario #3: Online credit recovery taught by district staff

69.5%     Scenario #8: Online credit recovery utilizing purchased program like E20/20

67.6%     Scenario #6: 6th grade students taking online learning for Algebra I

59.4%     Scenario #10: Student with anxiety concerns unable to attend physical classes, able to finish classes online.

64.3%     Scenario #9: High student taking online courses to earn additional credits to get back on track.

53.8%     Scenario #7: Math acceleration through outside accredited institution for high school credit.

53.6%     Scenario #1: Online summer courses for acceleration

53.1%     Scenario #2: Student wants to graduate early by taking online elective course to increase credits to meet the graduation requirement.

41.9%     Scenario #4: Credit recovery through online courses from an outside accredited institution.

DOWNLOAD the complete survey and results….

Full survey results (pdf file)

Secondary, 7-12, results (pdf file)

Elementary (6th grade only) results (pdf file)


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