Mention the phrase “online courses” and most people instantly assume either of the following: online courses are for those involved in distance learning, online courses are for adults and mature students, or online courses are taken outside or after school time. These are true with many online courses, but not all…
According to a report at the augustachronicle.com, a local school in Aiken (USA) has developed a great method of blending traditional secondary learning with future technologies more associated with distance learning. South Aiken High School in South Carolina allows its students to enroll on the Virtual School Program, a scheme started by the state to give students more opportunities at high school.
The scheme works by offering students an additional 60 online courses a course in miracles alongside typical secondary subjects that are completed via assignments, and at their own pace. Consequently, this means that if a student needs to study another language to attend a certain university, they can chose to do so by attending the IT suite at the school library, whilst others remain in class.
The program has had a significant amount of interest, with 16,000 applications at the beginning of the 2008/2009 year – and 13,000 being approved. When students apply they have to prove that they are prepared to work independently, and have the means to do so – this assists the coordinators in making sure no-one applies who might be trying to find an easier route to skip class.
The scheme is not only available in schools however, distance learners and children taught at home can also apply, allowing impressive accessibility for all students state-wide. Now the Virtual School Program is well-established, I wonder how many subjects will begin to be taught in such a way, and whether traditional and more expensive classroom may be on a gradual decline.
I’m also eager to see when such a project will arrive in the UK. It seems that until now, the popularity of home education may have suffered due to local authorities finding it difficult to control what is taught. But if countywide, or region-wide, schemes were established for schools and home learner alike, this might be the beginnings of offering students equally accessible courses, and equally good-quality learning.