From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A virtual school is simply a school where students of all ages can do their coursework online. Most states in the United States have their own virtual school, and many of them have students numbering in the thousands. By providing a student's social security number the person is then entered into a database where they can chose which classes they want to take.
Many schools have over 100 classes and faculty numbering in the hundreds. A typical class can have around 100 students, but can reach anywhere up to 200. Students keep in contact with teachers through email, chat rooms, and a program called the whiteboard, along with phone calls. To help with communication many virtual schools have implemented their own system programs to help build courses and maintain student profiles. There are also many books and training manuals to aid in the development of such schools and courses.
Today's virtual schools are descendants of correspondence schools. Sometime referred to as "distance learning," correspondence schools offered students an alternative to the traditional brick and mortar meetings withing a schoolhouse. These schools utilized the postal service for student-teacher interaction. Students were expected to study their learning material independently and, in some cases, meet with a proctor top be tested. Modern virtual schools provide similar alternatives to students with a more ubiquitous approach.
Virtual Schools now exist all around the world, but are used primarily in the United States. The schools have now been integrated into public schools, where students sit in computer labs and do their work online. In other situations, students can be completely home schooled, or they can take any combination of public/private/home schooling and online classes.
Pricing and location
Virtual schools may be free if the state you live in pays for the courses, otherwise, there will be a course fee to be paid for by the student, parents or student's home school. Other materials would be purchased by the student, such as books.
Materials can also add up. Most courses will provide electronic materials free of cost, but others require some shopping on the students part. Textbooks are not required but can be used as an aid for coursework.
As mentioned earlier, many materials are provided free of cost. Some schools provide high quality programs, usually for web design classes. Some popular materials include Adobe products, Jasc products, and products from Macromedia. Other schools may use Corel products as a cheaper alternative. These products are usually free. You usually receive the full version of the selected program, with a limited license, usually 1 year or so. These programs are key in the success of virtual schools, and help them to improve each year. Many schools will also provide a brand new computer for all students in need of one. Generally, these computers run using the Microsoft operating system, Windows XP, but depending on your needs and coursework the school may also use Linux based computers or Apple Macintoshes.
Generally, grading is controlled by the teachers. There are 4 main types of assignments. Assessments are the most common, and include students uploading files, usually created using Microsoft Word, or other programs from Microsoft Office. Worksheets are also common, and can consist of multiple choice, matching, short answer, and other questions. Most questions from worksheets are auto graded by the computer, but if a response is needed for any question, the teacher must manually grade that portion of the assignment. Discussions are common too. They usually have a very small grade value, and usually don't show up in the assignments section of the course, where you submit work and check scores. The final type of assignment is exams. These assignments usually count for a large part of the student's grade, and are usually taken at the end of modules, or at the mid-term point or final portion of a class.
The scoring system is generally the same as any public school system in the United States. In most schools a letter grade of A is accomplished when a student's number grade is between 90 and 100 percent. A score of 80 to 89 percent will earn a B, and so on. An F is the lowest score you can earn, and encompasses scores of 50 percent or below in most cases.
- Distance education
- Electronic learning
- Virtual Campus
Categories: Limited geographic scope | Alternative education | Distance education | Educational technology