‘Teacher cheerleaders’ make online learning successful

Virtual learning can help many at-risk students graduate on time.

As online learning reaches more students in districts across the country, some educators struggle with how they can become successful virtual teachers—but tips from the 2011 National Online Teacher of the Year might help.

Kristin Kipp, who teaches English online at the 21st Century Virtual Academy in Jefferson County, Colo., has been teaching online for three years. Kipp teaches 11th and 12th graders, is an instructional leader for the English department, and is a part-time adjunct English teacher with Colorado Online Learning.

Jefferson County’s 21st Century Virtual Academy is a district-led program that accepts students both from the district and across the state. Many Jefferson County students are enrolled part-time in the virtual academy, taking two or three classes at a local high school and a few courses online. This, said Kipp, has been especially successful, because students are still in “school mode” for their online courses.

Students range from those considered at-risk owing to issues such as poor grades or low attendance, to those hoping to fit in a few extra courses before heading off to college.

For more on virtual learning:

Introducing Online Learning in Your District

eSN Special Report: Blended Learning on the Rise

Kipp said she and some of her colleagues believe many colleges and universities look favorably on students who enroll in online courses.

“Obviously, the world of postsecondary education has moved to online education a whole lot faster than secondary education,” she said. “I think colleges look favorably on it because students already have some experience, and kids who work online have to develop this sense of being a self-motivated learner, and they have to make that decision every day. I think colleges are starting to realize that makes for a student who is well-prepared.”

Laura Ascione

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