In 2020 and 2021, the pandemic changed the way we used online learning with our 1,200 students. We had an online learning platform in place but were suddenly facing a pandemic-driven switch to remote learning and the need to offer both hybrid (i.e., a mix of on- and off-campus options) and online options.
We were fortunate in that all of our teachers were accustomed to the online model, but we were suddenly facing an overload of courses and a bigger need from the student perspective. VHS Learning helped us fill those voids by helping us create a blend of both core and elective courses that would keep learning on track during an extremely disruptive time.
Many of our students were able to get through the pandemic by using those online courses.
Here are five more ways our online learning provider helped us navigate the complexities and keep learning on track:
1. Tap into a wide variety of courses. On top of the core academics that VHS Learning provides, it also offers a wide variety of other options. For example, high school elective offerings are often limited by the number of teachers that are available to teach those courses. Our advanced learners love perusing the course catalog and picking out options that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them.
2. Drill down into customized courses. Our online learning provider created a customized physics course and provided teaching support that we used to cover the bases when one of our teachers resigned in the middle of the pandemic. They also provided us with a teacher who taught the customized course, worked with our students, and created both synchronous and asynchronous learning at the same time.
3. Get teacher support. For that customized physics course, students were able to take the core physics course online while also connecting with the teacher for lectures and other activities on VHS Learning’s own learning management platform. They were getting their lectures directly from the teacher three times a week. The teacher also held office hours, where students could do virtual visits and bring up any questions that they may have had.
4. Expand beyond the basics. We’re fortunate to already have a high number of elective offerings for our students, but sometimes they get interested in a particular course that’s only offered at an introductory level on campus. For example, we’ve seen students take a particular interest in engineering and sociology and want to learn more about these subjects. To fulfill that need, our provider offers courses that go beyond the introductory level, including psychology and criminology. A course like criminology allows students to further examine that field and see if it’s something they might be interested in after high school.
5. Get students committed to the challenge. Online learning provides a solid foundation for college, where students learn independently and have to take it upon themselves to email teachers with questions. To prepare students for success with online learning, we review that contract with our students and with our guidance counselors before they even get started. Our students also must get a recommendation from a classroom teacher and their guidance counselor, and their parents and an administrator have to sign it. We do this to make sure students are committed to the expanding the skills required to excel in an online course.
When I speak with graduates who have since moved onto college, I get great feedback about the online courses those students took in high school. The rigor of the online courses helps prepare those students for college and the workforce and gives them new challenges to sink their teeth into.
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