Michigan recently unveiled a new way for high school students to excel, virtually. The Michigan Virtual High School (MVHS), approved by the Michigan Legislature in June 2000, is now in session.

The state Legislature allocated $18 million for the program’s first three years, with additional funds from private sector and public foundations.

At this stage, MVHS offers 12 advanced placement courses and an online library of 700 information technology courses, which are available to anyone connected to a state school or university. Students can choose to take a self-guided course or an instructor-led online course. MVHS is looking into offering online remedial courses and professional courses.

Currently, all of the courses offered are free, which may change as the system evolves. The program is not meant to compete with the state’s high schools, officials said, but to offer supplementary education.

Program developers see it as a real benefit, especially for students in rural or remote areas like the Upper Peninsula.