New Year, New School? Online Learning Can Ease Transitions

St. Joseph News-Press, December 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

New Year, New School? Online Learning Can Ease Transitions


(BPT) - A new trend in American public education finds many K-12 students transferring schools mid-year - even when the family doesn't move. Many families are looking to give their child a fresh start for a variety of reasons, both academic and social.

A 2012 Parent Satisfaction Survey conducted by virtual education provider Connections Academy revealed that the top reasons cited by parents for enrolling students in its full-time online public schools were that they wanted: a change in the learning environment from their current school situation, a more flexible schedule and a more controlled educational setting. Fifty-one percent of parents felt, "I have a child who doesn't learn well in a traditional school setting,' and a sobering 16 percent reported that their child was bullied in his or her previous school and cited this issue as a "significant reason' for enrollment.

Educators say many of these families are turning to full-time online schools. The reason is two-fold. First, more families than ever are embracing virtual education: Roughly 275,000 American K-12 students now get their complete educations online, according to the report, Keeping Pace with K-12 Online & Blended Learning. And second, the very format of virtual school eases the adjustment period and physical transitions for both student and family. At these schools, learning takes place at home, with a parent or "Learning Coach' on site. Instruction is directed by certified teachers, with whom students and parents communicate frequently by phone, email and real-time online lessons.

"Blended' schools that meld face-to-face and online learning are also growing in number - and in popularity with families, students and educators alike. Educators say blended schools can be a great choice for families switching schools mid-year for whom full-time virtual schools aren't a good fit. Blended schools like Nexus Academy serve no more than 250 to 300 students and offer a rigorous high school experience in a highly personalized, innovative and flexible school environment. Students learn "on campus' from certified teachers in a traditional classroom setting, as well as online using school-provided mobile technology tools to learn anywhere, any time. Strong teacher support combined with the student's ability to work at his own pace with online learning makes blended schools an excellent choice for new mid-year students who may need to address academic gaps or other transitions from the prior school. …

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