With many of the state’s largest institutions leading the way, online education is a growing trend in Texas’ higher education system. Schools such as the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, and Texas Tech University are among some of the major universities offering distance learning opportunities to their students. The demand for more flexible education programs that cater to the needs of working adults and nontraditional students has also paved the way for a number of private online schools in Texas. Even at the primary through secondary level, state initiatives like Vision 2020 are helping to enhance educational efforts by providing wider access to online and technology-based programs. These types of initiatives help to create independent learners who are prepared to take advantage of the growing use of technology in higher education and workplace.
Higher Learning Initiatives
Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN)
The Texas Virtual School Network was established in 2007 by the Texas Legislature to provide online learning opportunities to state students. To take advantage of these courses, students must be enrolled in a Texas public school district or an approved open-enrollment charter school. All courses are reviewed by the Texas Education Agency to ensure they meet the quality standards of the state. These types of classes can be ideal for students looking to take specialized electives, make up lost credits, or accelerate their education.
Electronic Course Program (eCP)
Initiated in 2006, the Electronic Course Program (eCP) is administered by the Texas Education Agency. This program provides schools with state funding based on the number of students, grades 3-10, who complete full-time virtual education programs. Both public school districts and open enrollment charter schools are eligible for this program. Currently, plans are underway to expand these online course offerings through the 12th grade level.
Vision 2020 is a grant program funded by NCLB Title II, Part D Enhancing Education through Technology. Grant applications were first made available in 2009, with funding going towards the implementation of online and technology-rich learning options for students at various levels of the Texas education system. Awardees include public school districts throughout the state, such as Amarillo ISD, Alief ISD, El Paso ISD, McAllen ISD, and Irving ISD, to name a few. In addition, further plans are in place to accelerate the use of technology and distance learning platforms across Texas as part of the program’s Long-Range Plan for Technology 2006-2020.