Going Virtual – even more!

Guest post by Sally Roberts, DOE Educational Policy Consultant for Virtual Education

Everyone is talking about “school choice” these days, but “choice” doesn’t mean just charter and magnet schools. Starting in August, Florida students will now have more virtual education choices.

Students will have the option to take ALL their classes through Florida Virtual School Full-time. In addition, the Legislature authorized districts to now offer additional online courses for students in grades K-12 and virtual charter schools. Courses include everything from chemistry and grammar to physical education and drivers ed!

In order to better prepare our students for postsecondary education and the 21st Century workplace, all students entering ninth grade in 2011-2012 must complete at least one course through online learning. Students may take the required online high school course from Florida Virtual School, a district high school or middle school, or through dual enrollment.

Check out our Florida Virtual Public Education Options chart for a quick overview of what program would be best for your child.

How to register:

Has your child ever enrolled in an online course? If so, what was their experience like?

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11 thoughts on “Going Virtual – even more!

  1. Yes my son took the entire 3rd grade thru a virtual school (Connections Academy) and loved it. Besides the major commitment it took on my part (learning coach), it was a better option than the public school that served our area! We both really enjoyed the flexibility of the schedule and the freedom of how he learned the lessons. He was ahead much of his fellow students and this allowed him to finish and be done for the day/week and not be stuck in a classroom disrupting the other students.

  2. The problem with online learning is the student who is not yet self-motivated. It’s even more time-consuming than merely supervising homework when a child is enrolled in an online course. And a poorly supervised, or lying, child can go months without updating their coursework, and risk being dropped. Check your enthusiasm at the door. Most students for whom online coursework is suggested as a way to make up credits do not have the self-motivation skills required to successfully complete online coursework without mountains of parent intervention. Where’s the benefit in that if the child comes from a situation where parent involvement is already lax, or entirely absent? Get a clue about the real world.

    • We appreciate your concern. Online learning has been a great medium for many students, helping them earn credits and make up credits through online learning. It has provided opportunities for students who were not successful elsewhere. However, we realize that it might not be a perfect fit for everyone. Online learning is just one more choice students have in Florida. Thanks for your comment!

  3. It’s not a choice if it becomes a requirement for Florida High School graduation to take one course online in order to earn the diploma.

    • Although the online class for 24-credit graduation is required, students have many ways to meet it. They can take an online high school course from a district middle or high school (this includes brick and mortar schools and the district’s virtual schools), Florida Virtual School, or through dual enrollment. Many school districts have set up individualized online processes for the requirement. Hope this info helps!

  4. How about a virtual school for teacher inservice?

    • There are lots of professional development courses for teachers offered online. Check out sources like FDLRS, PAEC, NEFEC, Beacon, etc. online, or give your district staff development office a call to see what options are available in your area. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Virtual school is not for everyone, but it can benefit a lot of students, whether it’s by taking a single class or their entire school year’s worth of courses. The reality is these kids are way more wired than their parents and even teachers ever were. They can readily adapt to the idea of school without walls. And as far as students who aren’t self-motivated, well, they still need parental involvement, just as they do in traditional educational settings. With FLVS, it’s nearly impossible for the kid to not do anything for months. Monthly calls with your child’s teacher are required. You also, as the parent, have access to the child’s lessons and gradebook, showing every assignment, quiz and test that is required, when it is submitted, and what grade is received. Parents shouldn’t look at virtual school as one more way to disconnect from their child’s education. In fact, it might require a little more of your time, or I should say require your time more consistently (not necessarily more time overall), but both parent and child end up enriched by the experience. Students in virtual school learn independent study habits that will serve them well whether they go on to college, vocational school or simply get a job. Success in life requires being able to act independently, albeit with support, to achieve one’s goals

  6. I left a reply to the commissioner on a different blog topic and then saw this one on FLVS that is more suitable and invite your reply.

    With respect to FLVS, our school/district has a rule that a student cannot be more than 50% finished with a FLVS course before the normal school term starts — if they want that FLVS course to be taken in lieu of a class at the school. Moreover, taking a course over the summer will not reduce a student’s course load requirement for the upcoming year (they still have to take 7 classes even if they are now way ahead in credits).

    So, a student who wants to “get ahead” over the summer (using FLVS as an acceleration mechanism, See Section 1007.27(1)F.S.) so that they have more time in the school year for other activities/academics/work/dual enrollment, etc. is not given that option. I would like the option for my child to be able to take 2 classes over the summer, for example, so that she only has to take 5 rather than 7 class periods during the year, leaving her time for other activities/academics/work/dual enrollment. The benefits of virtual classes/FLVS cannot be fully realized without such options. Moreover, requiring students to take 7 classes when they only “need” 5, for example, further exacerbates the class size and overcrowding issues (which FLVS is intended to alleviate, See Section 1003.03(3)(b) F.S.). I would suspect this has to do with the brick-and-mortar school wanting to get all of its funding (FTEs) which requires a “full day” at the physical school. But the needs of our children should come before the funding desires of our schools.

    I hope that the state will address these issues and provide more direction to the school districts on how to better utilize the benefits of FLVS and follow the intent of the legislature on virtual education.

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