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provider overview

We document the many different types of online, blended, and digital schools, programs, tools, resources, and instructional practices in the practice section. All of those schools and programs use providers from outside the district that supply one or more of online courses, online content, teachers, software designed to help students gain skills in math and English, learning management systems, professional learning for teachers, and other products and services. These providers complement district-provided teaching, professional learning, and content development.

This array of products and services is confusing for three reasons.

First, products and services often overlap. For example, a learning management system can be purchased as a stand-alone product, or it may be included as part of an online course acquisition. Alternatively, online content ranges from providing an entire course such as U.S. history (which may include an online teacher), to online tools that classroom teachers use to bolster their in-class instruction.

Second, the same product or service may be used in different ways. The same online course might be used for original credit with an online teacher, and for credit recovery with an onsite teacher. A reading product might be used primarily in a classroom, or embedded within an online course, or as a homework or enrichment supplement.

Third, providers may offer a limited and focused set of products and services, or a wide array. Schools and districts may choose to work mostly with a single provider, or to use many providers.

Within these many overlapping products and services, no taxonomy is exactly right. This section is being developed and eventually will include a taxonomy of major online and blended learning providers.