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
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
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
products, and products from
Macromedia. Other schools may use
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
based computers or
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
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.
Limited geographic scope |
Alternative education |
Distance education |