|Written by Becky Komppa|
Virtual school opportunities are here and originating from our local instructors! Providing online learning opportunities as an option for students is becoming increasingly popular as is evidenced by the number of offerings available to Minnesota students. Over 1,750 state approved offerings are available to Minnesota students who, according to School Choice laws, can take 50% of their courses online. (ISEEK.org)
Local students can experience online learning courses as part of an effort by Freshwater Education District schools, who are working under an E2T2 grant, to provide more opportunities for students, as well as upgrading teachers’ technological skills. During semester one, which just concluded, students were able to select from eleven elective courses. These included Art 1A, Introduction to Business, Accounting, Creative Writing, Media Literacy, Teaching Young Children, Spanish 3A, Fitness & Wellness, Physics and CADD (computer assisted drafting.) One college online course was offered, Introduction To Business Part A.
During semester two, students were able to register for Natural Resource Science II, Sculpture-3D, Intro to Business Part B, Intro to Computer Applications, Advanced Computer Applications, Accounting II, Careers with Children, Spanish 3B, Medical Terminology, and Psychology. Two online college courses were offered, Introduction to Computer Applications and Introduction to Communication Studies. College courses are offered in cooperation with Central Lakes College.
A learning team is involved in the educational process of each student. Counselors have assessments available to help the student and their parents consider if the online experience is for them. Student supervisors are assigned to supervise the student daily during a scheduled class period. Distance teachers work with the student supervisor in addition to the student and principal. Many varied educational tools are available to the online instructor to help students succeed. Teacher and student interaction is, believe it or not, often greater in the online environment than that which often takes place in classrooms having large numbers of students.
A student survey that was conducted at the end of the first semester was quite positive on an overall basis! Students shared that online courses should continue to be offered, and increased in number and selection. Surveys are in the process of being received from instructors, principals, and student supervisors.
Currently, planning is being done for the offering of courses for the 2009-2010 school year. These course offerings, about to be finalized, will also add sociology, and perhaps an elective course in the history area. Core courses are planned for the 2010-2011 school year in the areas of English, History, Science and Math. Teacher training continues to be ongoing and will be a key component in developing the core, and additional elective course offerings. It is hoped that all schools will include the online offerings in the local registration books. Students, having at least a C grade average are encouraged to talk to their local school counselor to begin the online course request process.
The online project, according to Joe Joerger the online coordinator, is an effort whereby our Freshwater Ed. District schools are trying to work together for common purposes. He said an important goal of the project is have a cooperative effort that helps our students, communities, and teaching staff.
Bruce Lund, director of the Freshwater Education District, says, “When our consortium’s students take our quality online courses from our well trained teachers, we know those students are getting a high level course! We know our teachers are getting better when they take our training. We know our communities appreciate the opportunity for their students to take classes prepared by their local consortium teachers. There are some great benefits to all parties involved in this project!”