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Online Learning was a Game-Changer for Me

• Erin Lockett

To celebrate National Online Learning DayInnovation Associate Policy Director Erin Lockettshares her story of how supplemental online learning helped her win longtime academic battle with statistics.  

Third (Well, Fourth) Time’s the Charm

From the very first day of my first statistics course in high school, I learned I was terrible at statistics. I never quite grasped the material or understood the purpose of the seemingly complicated course.

After scraping by in high school, I hoped statistics and I would never meet again. I was wrong. 

It was the GRE (which contains about 20% statistics questions) and a missing math requirement for college graduation that forced our reintroduction. The only available course for my missing requirement? 8AM Intro to Stats.

Optimistically, I thought it would be easier this time around. I was wrong again. 

I managed to get by in that early morning class and do well on my GRE, but unfortunately it wasn’t the last time in my academic career I’d face off with statistics. My graduate program also had a statistics course requirement. By then I was interning at ExcelinEd and could finally see the practical application of statistics: shaping education policy.

This time I was determined. I joined a study group. I asked for extra time with the professor. Yet I still just wasn’t quite mastering the material.

On the recommendation of my 8th-grade cousin, I set up a profile on Khan Academy and began a statistics course online, alongside my graduate work. I was learning the same concepts but experiencing different explanations on Khan Academy. There were clearly identified skills to master, and it felt like having a private tutor.

Years ago in that high school statistics course, I had been told that stats can be used to help tell your story with data. But I had never understood how to use that to my advantage until now. For the first time, I truly understood the material.

While Khan Academy wasn’t my first experience with online learning, it was the first time that an online course didn’t feel simply like a lecture set posted to the internet. The course took advantage of online tools to make the experience more interactive, ultimately (finally!) giving me greater retention of the material and mastery of the content.

Online Learning is for Anyone and Everyone

High-quality online learning has a multitude of uses for all people, but especially for students. Online learning can be used to supplement existing curriculumrethink a tired subjectinteract with far-flung culture and history, learn a new skill and access courses not offered in local schools.

As society demands more adaptability and flexibility in careers, learning how to improve and advance yourself through online education is critical for lifelong learning.  

As we celebrate National Online Learning Day, let’s remember the groundbreaking innovations that online learning has made and its life-changing impact on students across the nation and around the world.  States must continue this trend to look ahead for new opportunities to innovate.

P.S. – Don’t miss Founder and CEO of Khan Academy Sal Khan at the 2019 National Summit on Education Reform!

About the author

Erin Lockett

Erin Lockett is a Senior Policy Analyst at ExcelinEd, focusing on Course Access in the Innovation Policy set. Her work includes Innovation sessions and annual Pre-Summit workshops at the National Summit on Education Reform, convenings, thought leadership, and white papers on Course Access and Personalized Learning. She graduated from George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School for Public Policy and Public Administration with a Master’s in Public Administration, focusing on nonprofit management.