Iowa Learning Online (ILO), is an Iowa Department of Education program which partners with local schools to expand student distance learning opportunities. In addition to providing a central, credible source for online coursework, ILO benefits students and schools in other ways. It helps address increasing teacher shortages, particularly in hard-to-fill regions or subject areas. ILO makes it easy to provide a wider variety of courses available for Iowa public, accredited nonpublic, and dually-enrolled homeschooled students, allowing local schools to provide courses or advanced subjects that otherwise would not be available. Students are enrolled in ILO courses through their local school school or district.
The State Board of Education serves as the policy board for high school courses offered through ILO. ILO is identified in the Code of Iowa as the Iowa Department of Education's model online learning program (Senate file 2284, section 17). ILO works with Iowa school districts to provide teachers and curriculum for online high school courses.
ILO follows four principles:
- Iowa Learning Online is a supplemental online program that partners with local school districts, and cannot replace them. Local districts continue to award their students the credits earned upon successful completion of Iowa Learning Online courses.
- Iowa Learning Online serves a variety of educational needs and a broad range of learners. It is open to meeting the needs of all high school students.
- Iowa Learning Online collaborates to provide quality learning opportunities for students anywhere in the state.
- Iowa Learning Online values continuous improvement toward innovative, quality learner opportunities utilizing emerging technologies.
Courses offered by ILO are developed and/or licensed based on their adherence to best practices in online instruction and content-area practices. ILO courses are aligned with the Iowa Core, Universal Constructs, Iowa's 21st Century Skills, and the iNACOL National Standards of Quality for Online Courses. All course selections follow a rigorous evaluation process by ILO's team of educators, content area experts, instructional designers, and educational technologists.
Class sizes vary by course, however, the number of students is kept reasonably low to allow all students in a course to collaborate. ILO class sizes are similar to the experience one would expect from an average face to face class.
The Student Experience
ILO's award-winning courses foster a learner community approach, where students meet and collaborate with the other Iowa students. While each course is unique, all include a wide variety of learning events, assignments, discussion forums, video chats, projects, and formative and summative assessments. Students must be offered the opportunity and space to work on their courses at school, but may continue to work on their courses from home or another location. Although ILO classes are organized around a traditional semester term, the online format allows greater flexibility in the time and place of learning. All students registered in an ILO class need to be supported by a local school employee, called Site Coordinator (coach).
Courses are semester based, following a traditional school year schedule with a Fall, Spring, and a limited Summer term. To better meet individual student needs and diverse schedules of Iowa schools, ILO offers two separate cohorts during the Fall and Spring terms offset by two weeks. If a school/student situation does not fit within a standard semester or cohort schedule (such as a late enrollment or other special circumstance), schools may contact ILO to discuss options for a special accommodation.
All ILO teachers are highly qualified and fully licensed in the State of Iowa with an appropriate endorsement level for the content area being taught. ILO teachers are required to demonstrate competency or complete specific coursework in online instruction, and are provided with ongoing professional learning experiences to enhance their practice.