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Online Learning Personalizes Education at the Florida Virtual School

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Online Learning Personalizes Education at the Florida Virtual School


>>Patricia: You have to look
very carefully with oysters, but you can see where
they come together, where the two shells come together.>>Narrator: High schools across
the country teach students about marine biology in
hands-on labs like this one at Daniel Jenkins Academy
in Haines City, Florida.>>Some have some more
spots than others.>>Patricia: Some have
more spots than others.>>Narrator: But at this
school, live interaction with the classroom teachers
is the exception to the rule, because the students who come
here take most of their courses, including this one, online.>>Patricia: Here at Daniel Jenkins
the students actually come to school and do their classes
online, and normally most of the students would actually do
this lab at home, but getting oysters and squids in this area is
kind of hard for the students, so I was able to obtain
those and bring them out and actually interact
with the students.>>Does everybody see something
that’s kind of silvery-shiny?>>Out of the close to 200 students
that I’ll deal with this year, I will only see maybe
10 of those students, so this is a really great
opportunity as an instructor to get to meet my students face to face.>>This is all part of
the reproductive system.>>Narrator: Kretzer believes that
she can relate to her students better in a virtual classroom
than in a real one.>>Patricia: Being the online
instructor you have a more personal relationship with your students. Because we do interact with
them online, on the phone, you can really get
to know them better and you can also identify
their strengths and weaknesses much more quickly, I
think, than in the regular classroom, because I deal with them only
when I’m working with them. If I need to take two hours
with that student to help them, then I take two hours
with that student.>>Hey, Chelsea. All right, which quiz
do we need to do?>>Narrator: Kretzer designs
and teaches her courses through the Florida Virtual School. Established in 2000, the nation’s
first Internet-based public school offers virtual learning options
for grades seven through twelve.>>Julie: We offer a full
high school curriculum. It consists of electives, core
courses, advanced-placement courses and honors courses, and
they are all the courses that a student would actually need
to graduate, to get a diploma. Although we don’t offer a
diploma, and that is by design, our role here in the state of
Florida is to actually fill the gaps of our public and our
private schools. For example, our rural districts have
less access to high-quality courses and high-quality teachers. Online learning brings
that to their doorstep.>>All right, here it goes.>>Our wonderful angel pie.>>Oh, look at that.>>Narrator: “Florida Virtual”
means different things to different students. It’s allowed Amanda
Gashaw to work full time as a waitress while taking high
school and college courses online.>>Amanda: I have been able
to hold down a full-time job, be considered almost
a full-time student at the local community college and
participate in community activities, such as cheerleading
and volunteer things. And if it weren’t for
taking classes online, I would not be able to do this.>>Katarina: This assignment was
called “The Impact of Change.”>>Katarina prefers
Florida Virtual’s offerings and the support she receives
from computer facilitators at Daniel Jenkins to the other
local high school environment.>>Katarina: Over at the
high school you have so many people trying
to get around everybody. It’s kind of hectic. I’d rather have a teacher that’s
willing to be here and to help me and that’s not just upset
about everything else.>>Tell me about how
you researched it.>>Katarina: And that’s how it feels
that a lot of the teachers are at the public high school,
because the classes are so large and they get so irritated so easily. So, from this online high
school, I expected a lot from it and I’ve received a lot.>>Narrator: Williams spends the
school day taking online courses at Daniel Jenkins and goes to nearby
Haines City High to compete in track.>>Katarina: Over there it’s
loud; it’s overcrowded, and I feel like if I’m around the
right type of people that’re here, then that has just pushed me to
strive and do better at what I do.>>Narrator: Florida
Virtual allowed Nick to complete his high school classes after he injured his
knee playing football. His favorite course is the marine
biology unit designed by Pat Kretzer.>>Nick: She actually puts a storyline
behind it, like we’re supposed to be all in this ship and we’re
all supposed to be explorers and go through the Galapagos Islands,
the Madagascar Islands. The answers weren’t just there; you
had to go deeper into the Internet and find out more stuff, and at the
same time you were learning more stuff, so that class
to me is awesome.>>Now all the modules you have
to complete before graduation?>>Nick: At school.>>Narrator: Lisa sometimes
shares a small office with her son running an international
virtual business from their home.>>Lisa: It’s funny, because Nick and
I work in the same office together and we kind of fight over space.>>What’re you [ inaudible ] . Back up.>>So he gets to see a
lot of what I deal with, and now he realizes how disciplined
and focused you have to be.>>Nick: I would recommend if
you’re a procrastinator if you go into this class and you
don’t want to do the work, you keep pushing it off,
“I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow,” then
don’t even try to do it, because you’re going
to end up way behind.>>Lisa: The flexibility that
I think is great for Nick is if it takes him two hours, he’s
not embarrassed by other children, and if it takes him 20 minutes
he’s not held back by other kids. I think the greatest point about
this school is their correspondence and the interaction with the parents. I get progress reports constantly. I have the flexibility to make
calls any hour of the day, because these teachers
are working from home.>>Narrator: With the lack of
qualified teachers for every subject and growing demands from
students for more flexibility, more and more learning
will happen online.>>William: The students are going
to be able to use technology more and more easily and
readily than ever before, not only taking full online courses
but taking parts of courses online, so that you would have
what they call “blended” — having teachers in the regular
classrooms teaching face to face with their students for part of the
time and using the technologies, where appropriate, to enhance and
improve the quality of courses.>>Patricia: So you can call
me whenever it’s flexible for you, and then I’ll…>>William: Our organization’s
all about quality, and we see the potential of this
as being a tremendous method of improving the quality
of education, both in our region and
across the country.>>For more information on what works in public education
go to edutopia.org

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