Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett said he's pushing the legislature to consider requiring each student to take at least one online course before graduating high school.
Jazmyn Styles is a pretty typical online student in Indiana. Styles attends Pike high school, but this year she is also taking a government course online through the Indiana Online Academy.
"This class is government," Styles said, pointing to her computer screen. "This is a discussion board. It's a place where we can all voice our own opinion on certain situations. There's no right or wrong answers."
Ronda Eshleman might have the quietest principal office in the state, but that's not due to a lack of students. The academy started with 389 enrolled students in the 2005-06 school year. Each year since it's had big increases, with 8,423 students this year.
There are nearly 10 similar online schools around the state and they have all seen increases in enrollment.
"I think it's the wave of the future," said Eshleman, who recently took over as the Indiana Online Academy principal.
The academy has been able to grow quickly because it partners with nearly 200 local districts, which couldn't otherwise afford to add or maintain online curriculum and support staff.
"We work in partnership with schools instead of competing against them for students," Eshleman said.
Administrators said that partnership will be critical in pulling off Dr. Tony Bennett's proposal for all students to take online courses before graduation. Right now, there are more than 150 teachers on staff at the Indiana Online Academy. In order to reach many more students, online academies would have to add more staff or work more closely with existing faculty in schools.
"Probably the largest challenge is going to be the funding and being able to sustain it on a reasonable budget," said Mary Brabson, program coordinator for Indiana Online Academy.
Currently, online courses at the Indiana Online Academy cost $275 per student. Sometimes schools pick up the tab or a portion of it, but other times the students are responsible for it.
If the legislature passes an online requirement, the question of who pays for the classes will have to be cleared up.
If state government can figure out funding, one online government student said she'd be all for it.
"I actually think that's a good idea," said Styles, "because when you have an online course sometimes you are forced to find answers on your own."
State superintendent pushing online classes for all students
Online academy says biggest hurdle will be cost