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Geographic Considerations

One way in which online learning programs differ dramatically from traditional schools is that they have the capability to cross all boundaries. In an online learning program, the student may be in one state, taking a course developed by a teacher in a second state, that is taught by a teacher in a third state, and the official location of the online learning program could be in a fourth state! Policies particularly at the state and district levels can control how much leeway online learning programs have to expand their geographic reach. The following questions can promote discussion regarding how boundaries can be crossed or if they must be respected.

  • What teacher licensure reciprocity, if any, exists between the state where the program is located and the state where the teacher lives?
  • What requirements does the state(s) where students reside have, if any, for programs or businesses that function in the student state of residence?
  • What issues might arise from a regional accreditation that is not formally recognized by the state in which the student resides?
  • What are the employment and tax regulations in the states or countries where your teachers live, and how will you monitor changes in such laws in each relevant state or country of residence?
  • If a student takes classes from multiple schools or districts, which district or school is responsible for maintaining the transcript, administering state tests, and submitting relevant reports such as Special Education documentation?
  • If a teacher teaches in multiple schools or districts, who supervises and evaluates the teacher?
  • If students are from multiple states, how will you address issues related to your content covering the academic standards from each state?