Virtual High School takes learning online

March 15, 2007

By hammersmith

[Andrea Rivera, Arizona Daily Star] — Starting next fall, Immaculate Heart High School will begin to offer a select number of students elective courses in subjects such as DNA technology, screenwriting fundamentals, and criminology. But the instructors teaching those courses will never set foot on the Immaculate Heart campus, 625 E. Magee Road. The Catholic college preparatory school announced last month that it will offer online classes to supplement its regular course offerings. The online classes will be taught through a partnership with Virtual High School, a collaboration of high schools, teachers, and students from more than 300 schools in 27 states and 24 countries. There is a fee, which varies depending on the type of membership, to participate in the program. “How else could we provide 200 elective choices?” said Thomas P. Long, president of the private school. “We wouldn’t be able to do that in a traditional course-delivery model.”

As a participating member, the high school is guaranteed 15 seats in more than 200 online courses and will designate one faculty member to teach an online course. Kay Shannon, the school’s technology director, will serve as the liaison between Immaculate Heart and Virtual High School. She also will teach a statistics and quality-management online course. During the pilot year, the school will select 15 students to enroll in the online course of their choice. High school principal Dan Ethridge will chose students based on submitted applications. Seats will be opened to seniors first, he said. Students who are selected will have the option of taking one online class, which will be conducted during a normal class period in the school’s computer lab. The lab is being upgraded and will be ready for the fall semester.

School officials expect the number of students enrolled in online courses to expand based on the results, but they realize that online learning is not for everybody. Currently, 65 students attend Immaculate Heart, but next school year’s projected enrollment is around 75, Long said. “We feel it is going to take a lot of self-discipline,” Long said. “If there is a slew of kids we have to turn away, and the 15 kids who go in are very successful and this indicates a burgeoning interest, I think we would strongly consider expanding it immediately next year.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]