As we enroll new students in classes for the fall, I am frequently asked by families how certain courses work online. As we look to opportunities outside of a traditional classroom, we all naturally have to shift our thinking from what classes used to be like for families, to what opportunities online versions of these classes bring.
For a course like Physical Education, which most families understand to be team sports and physical tests of endurance, I get many questions about how this class can be accomplished online. At iQ Academy, we teach skills that will encourage students to lead a physically active lifestyle. Imagine a PE class where your completion time in an activity like the mile-run does not determine your self-esteem. Instead, teachers instruct on learning how to take care of your body and challenging yourself where you are at. Students learn the rules and techniques of a variety of individual sports and are encouraged to try new things. By keeping a log of their activity, students can see how many hours a week they spend staying active.
For the Life Skills class, families often assume it should involve learning how to cook and sew, but recognizing the challenge in doing those activities online, they wonder what they’ll actually be learning. There are so many valuable skills we develop as young adults and in an online environment, it’s so exciting to see students feel comfortable opening up about goal setting, making decisions, determining right from wrong, exploring relationships and solving conflicts. Issues that are often very difficult to talk about in a traditional classroom setting.
Art class in a brick and mortar school usually involves students playing with clay, drawing still life images and developing a color wheel with paint. Taking art online also requires quite a shift in thinking. In a class like Art Appreciation at iQ Academy, instructors base the curriculum on art history and culture rather than technique. For those with a desire to create, iQ Academy uses today’s technology and the changing workforce as a foundation, offering electives such as Digital Photography, Web Design and Game Design.
I hope that in giving some examples of what a few classes are like online compared to your previous experiences with them, you have a better sense of what you or your student will experience with online education. Choosing an educational path for your student is one of the most important decisions you will make. If the opportunities that online courses bring to your family sound like a great fit, I encourage you to find out more by visiting an Open House.
Visit this page to find a virtual school near you.
Online learning continues to be a hot topic in the blogosphere, check out some recent news items about online education and iQ Academy:
- School Blues From Your Daily Blarg
- Benefits of Online Learning for Teens From Connect With Your Teens Through Pop Culture and Technology
- Online School Solutions - Could This Be Your Solution? From Under the Golden Apple Tree
- Online Education - Is It For You? From Health, Beauty, Children & Family
- Online School Solutions Is Awesome! From A Day In The Life
- Review of KC Distance Learning Website From Homeschool Parent
- An Online Learning Alternative To Regular School From Robyn's Online World
Online learning is a new concept to many, but iQ Academy has been serving students with online high school and middle school opportunities for almost ten years. Undoubtedly, when you talk to other families about the education options you are weighing for your child – you will probably get a range of reactions and opinions. This is especially true when you bring up the subject of online learning.
There are a number of myths out there concerning the subject of online learning and I’d like to take the time to dispel some of the biggest myths we hear about virtual schools:
- Taking classes online requires you to just sit in front of a computer all day. Although all of our courses are housed online, there are plenty of assignments that require work away from the computer. From science experiments in your kitchen using basic home products, to taking a bike ride outside for gym class or getting comfy in your favorite chair to write a journal entry – there are plenty of opportunities to step away from the computer in iQ’s curriculum.
- There is a lack of socialization for online students. False! Many of our students maintain the circle of friends they made growing up, and iQ Academy provides several opportunities for students to get involved socially on a monthly basis. We recognize that exploring interests and getting to know other students are vital experiences in any student’s school career.
Local iQ programs also plan several face to face event opportunities throughout the year from baseball games and amusement parks to movie nights and bowling. Check the "Community" page on your local iQ Academy website for a school calendar and listing of upcoming events.
- Online education is the “easy” way out. Many students may spend less time actually “in school” than they would in a traditional school environment, but what’s great is that a student who struggles with one course can spend more of his or her day working on that difficult course. That student can then quickly finish a course they feel stronger in. As far as it being “easier” – that’s just not true. Actually, online learning has proven to be more rigorous than other types of learning because of its independent nature. If you think your student and family is up to the challenge – the rewards will be great!
- Online learning is the same as homeschooling your student. Online learning is a natural next step for many families that choose to homeschool, and while it provides many of the same great benefits – there are a few major differences to point out. All iQ Academies are partnered with a local, public school. That means our classes are taught by fully trained and certified teachers and students work towards an accredited high school diploma. Also, students are required to take any state standardized tests. With those being the major differences, many families that appreciate being able to continue their schooling at home while providing their students with a great education and support system.
- Online learning is a lonely environment and students have little support. Virtual schools provide support for students in many ways. At iQ Academy, a learning coach is on staff to help guide students and offer advice when they are struggling. Our teachers correspond with students daily via email, phone and Elluminate live online chat. For technical difficulties we have a Technical Support Help Desk that is available 24/7 to assist with internet or computer problems. We have also found that many students who would normally be too shy to speak up in a large brick and mortar school environment feel far more comfortable asking questions of our teacher given the 1:1 nature of online learning.
I hope I’ve helped dispel some of the myths and concerns you may have about online learning as you make the best possible choice for your student’s education.
Virtual schools are growing in popularity as many families continue to discover that they have the option to choose the right education for their children. Read on to see what people are saying about iQ Academy and our partner schools.
- Online High School Student to Graduate Early From the Summerville Journal Scene (South Carolina)
- Two From Area Graduate From The Pittsburg Morning Sun (Kansas)
- A Virtual Success: iQ Academy Graduate to Attend Dartmouth College From the Waukesha Freeman (Wisconsin)
- iQ Academy Graduates 166 From the Waukesha Freeman (Wisconsin)
- Online Learning for the iGeneration From the Six Feet Under Blog
- On Demand Learning For Today's "iGeneration" From the Dirty T-Shirt Blog
- Online Classes With KC Distance Learning From the Brain Foggles Blog
- Online School Solutions: Could This Solve Your Schooling Needs? From Mean Mama Reviews
In a recent survey, we asked 500 middle and high school students from around the country about their attitudes towards school. The results are in, and it is fascinating to read what was on the minds of today's students. Here are a few interesting bits of information we learned from the survey:
The good news for parents and teachers?
- Nearly 90% of teens said they are planning to enroll in a four-year college, community college or technical program when they graduate from high school.
- 43% ranked going to college at the top of the list when asked if they could do anything when they graduate.
The challenging news?
- As the number of classrooms shrinks and the student population grows, middle and high schoolers feel like they are being lost in the shuffle.
- 60% said that when they fall behind in their classes, they have to ask for help or don’t get the help they need to catch up.
- More than 33% confirmed that they have to ask to be challenged when they are doing well.
- 55% of students say that bullying is a problem in their school
I think we were surprised by both of those findings. The results of this survey were quite telling, and it sheds an interesting light on the attitudes many students have towards school.
We have also taken the opportunity to survey our own students as well in an effort to compare the attitudes of traditional school students to the attitudes of online students, and we will share these results with you as they come available.
Do you know a student who needs additional teacher support or access to a wider variety of high-quality curriculum? Visit this page today to learn more about the online learning opportunities available to students in your state.
One of the nice things about working in the early phases of a growing market is that we’re all finding our ways together. A very common question that comes up when we talk with students and parents is:
What kind of child can thrive online?
Our iQ Academy Washington teachers got together and created a “Preparing for Online Success” quiz that helps students and their families rank their learning habits in order to prepare to be an online learner. More than 1M students in grades kindergarten through 12 are taking classes online today. Our most successful students have (and I’d pose in this order):
- Supportive parents or family members at home to help out
- A sense of independence
- The ability to understand written instructions
- A joy around technology