According to research eighty-seven percent of all youth between the ages of 12 and 17 use the Internet. This is a familiar medium for young learners today, one which has already captured students’ interest. Students enter an online program with a sense of confidence with the medium. Outdated technology programs and tools will turn these techno-savvy students away from online learning, so online programs need to be on the cutting edge.
Online instruction for k-12 students is still in its infancy and educators are just beginning to recognize its value. America’s young people have embraced the computer and the Internet as their own. Half of all students age eight or older use the computer every day and nearly seventy-five percent have a computer at home. Students use the Internet for information gathering, email, and chat. Internet-based learning is a natural extension of their use of the Internet and online learning programs can provide focus and guidance to increase students’ natural need to learn (Angulo, 2001). Quality programs provide all instructional material, give immediate feedback, facilitate use of email, and monitor programs like Twitter and Facebook to create forums for online communities.
Web-based instruction encourages students to share their work, providing a safe and familiar environment to do so. Students’ familiarity with the medium fosters feelings of competence and self-confidence. Online learning additionally provides educators the opportunity to guide students to quality information on the Internet. Students learn how to use critical thinking skills to become even more skilled in navigating the wealth of information available on the Internet.