he number of teachers in Naperville District 203 and Indian Prairie School District 204 instructing online high school courses this summer is more than the previous two years combined.
Known as eLo, or Expanding Learning Opportunities, the online learning consortium provides high school students in District 203, District 204 and Wheaton Warrenville District 200 with online courses taught by teachers in the three districts. The classes have the same rigor as students would experience in a bricks-and-mortar classroom during the school year.
Kip Pygman, eLo’s director, said 51 instructors are teaching 82 online course sections this summer. By comparison, 24 people taught during summer 2015 and 35 taught last year.
One of the reasons, Pygman said, is because the number of students taking eLo courses flourished this year, causing the need to hire additional instructors.
“Summer enrollment continues to increase,” Pygman said. “That created a significant number of sections.”
This year 2,000 students signed up, compared to 1,272 last year, he said.
With both districts 203 and 204 providing Chromebooks to every high school student – District 203’s inaugural distribution was in 2016 and District 204’s dispersal begins in August – more teachers are looking for ways to incorporate technology into their classroom lessons.
As a result, more teachers were interested in trying their hand at online teaching, Pygman said. To give more people the opportunity, eLo limited the number of sections one person could teach, he said.
A benefit to having more teachers involved, Pygman said, is they’ll be able to return to their home schools and offer insight to their peers on what worked and what didn’t.
Pygman said eLo strives to gather statistics on the types of students who take the courses so the districts can work to improve the learning experience for students.
Gone are the days when students would take classes over the summer to recover course credits the lost by failing a class.
More often, he said, students take summer courses, such as U.S. history, so they can free up space for Advance Placement or career-track classes in during the school year.
Of the students in summer eLo, 65 percent previously completed an AP course.
The big benefit of eLo over traditional summer school is that students can be anywhere in the world and still do the work, as long as they have internet access.
This year students logged onto their coursework from 30 U.S. states and from 15 countries throughout Europe, Asia, North America, Central American and the Caribbean, officials said.