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Parents Talk: Going Back to School Online

Would you consider virtual learning for your child?

Would you let your child forgo the traditional classroom and learn by computer instead?

Lately, I've noticed a large amount of advertising for K-12 online school programs through MTS Minnesota Connections Academy and Minnesota Virtual Academy, among others.

I decided to find out more.

Minnesota public school students may enroll in a full-time online program or they may choose to take supplemental courses (taken in place of a course period during the regular school day).

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, all online courses offered through certified programs are: Taught by Minnesota licensed teachers; Meet or exceed state academic standards; Transfer to other public school districts; Apply to high school graduation.

If online learning is approved as a school option by the state's department, is it a good idea for your child?

A report released last month by university researchers is the latest to question the merits of schools run by K12 Inc., and other online learning progams by extension. K12 is the nation's largest virual school company. In Minnesota, the company runs Minnesota Virtual Academy, IQ Academy Minnesota, Insight School of Minnesota and eMinnesota Online Academy.

The report, titled Understanding and Improving Full-Time Virtual Schools (released by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado) found that students enrolled in K12 lag behind in math and reading compared to their traditionally-taught peers. K12 disputes these results.

On the other hand, there are benefits to cyber school.

For kids with time constraints, like rigorous athletic schedules or illnesses requiring intense treatment, the flexibility of online schooling could be the answer.

Students who have trouble with the traditional route in some way can also find reward in the online option.

“Plainly put, my kids were teased brutally and the public school system did nothing about it," one mom said in a Minnesota Parent article.

Would you consider online school for your child? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below.

Cathi August 10, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I wish there had been these options when my kids were in school. 2 of my 4 would have really benefitted. One other possibly. The 4th was/is very social and would have done better in a traditional school
Anna Schier August 10, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Hi Matt! I'm interested to hear more about how the logistics of instruction work with online education. Do you teach via email, webcam? How do you effectively communicate with students, despite the physical distance?
Matt Kasowicz August 10, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Anna, For our school, BlueSky Online High School, we utilize a 24/7 course availability. Students can work whenever possible in a given day. Teachers will have live class (online) sessions for those students who are available during the typical school day, to work on lessons and answer questions. We also have the availability to record those sessions so all students can utilize them. We use all major forms of communication in order to talk with students: text, phone, skype etc. We have a 3-person team setup that gives each student direct access to their own social worker, counselor, and homebase advisor (homeroom teacher). These are people are the bridge to the school and the homebase advisor is in constant contact with the student to help with anything. With our staff also spread out around the state, we are able to have regional meetings or testing sites to assist those students in our outlying areas. If you have any other specific questions, please feel free to contact me at mkasowicz@blueskyschool.org Thanks!
Anna Schier August 10, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Thanks for your explanation! It sounds like a very comprehensive structure.
NS August 21, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Our oldest is going into 11th grade and has been in MNVA for 11 years. He loves it, and its a great fit for him! Our 9th grader is going to try it this year too. It wasn't a perfect fit for him when he was younger, but we're going to try it for high school and see how it goes. Our youngest has been MNVA for several years also. We love the flexibility it gives our kids and our family! We love being part of their education! We love that they are excelling and working ahead of grade level! We consider it a huge blessing to have this option for our kids in MN. There are still many states that don't allow many options for kids in their education and that only hurts the kids!

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