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Design the Best Online Learning Program You Can (With a Little Help), Part 3

Education technology has really grown in recent years, as has the number of ways it can be implemented and used to help students. So when you’re looking to start or grow your own online learning program, it can help to draw inspiration from other educators who have faced similar problems and constraints. Looking to increase graduation rates, or to offer students who have fallen behind more opportunities to catch up? Or maybe you want to increase your course offerings, and better prepare your students for college and career? Whatever your goal is, online learning programs can help you achieve it, and so can hearing about the ways other educators, schools, and districts have addressed these problems.

Below are the stories of five schools and districts that have used online learning to better meet student needs, and the success they’re seeing from doing so.

Teen Mothers Need a Lot of Support. This New Orleans School Actually Provides It: “Graduation is a momentous occasion for any student, but for those who come through the NET Charter High School, it carries extra meaning.” Why’s that? NET Charter High School welcomes students who have had a difficult time completing their education in the past, particularly pregnant and postpartum students. NET is built to be both flexible and individualized for students, and offers direct instruction, blended learning, and fully online learning. In an effort to help their students even more, NET is also considering opening up a daycare so young parents have a reliable and affordable option for childcare as they complete their education.

Blended Learning Aids in Educational Innovation: Officials at Temple Independent School District in Texas have identified three keys to reducing performance gaps: innovation, building better relationships between teachers and students, and freeing up more time for teachers to spend with their students. This has led to an increased focus on blended learning within the district, in part because it gives students more independence and autonomy. “Blended learning is just best practices,” said history teacher Brian Durham.

Miami HS Expands Online Offering for Virtual Learners: Miami High School in Oklahoma has been using online courses to offer students more options to recover credits, and has recently expanded its use of online learning so students have access to more courses than they would otherwise. After the school’s French teacher retired, administrators weren’t able to find another qualified French teacher and couldn’t offer the course anymore, but online courses helped solve that problem. They’ve also helped students who want to challenge themselves with other courses the school doesn’t offer, like Physics, and the online format has been particularly helpful for students who need more flexibility. Ultimately, the school’s goal is to improve the dropout rate, and on their way to doing that, they’ve managed to reengage students and help them take more accountability for their own learning.

Seniors at Risk of Not Graduating on Time at Tulsa Alternative School Are Using Their Winter Break to Catch Up: To help students who have fallen behind, Tulsa MET Junior High and High School ran its first Winter Intersession Program this season. The program is designed to help students recover credits and get back on track to graduate on time. In total, five seniors attended this program, along with two juniors, who were working ahead so they could graduate early. While programs like this are more commonly offered in the summer, some students need additional opportunities during the school year to catch up.

Southwest Offers Virtual Classes to Students: Missouri’s Southwest School District recently changed online learning providers in an effort to offer more options to more students and help more students graduate. Courses are aligned to the Missouri Learning Standards, and give students the opportunity to recover credits, work ahead, and better prepare for life beyond high school. According to Superintendent Tosha Tilford, “Virtual school is very costly for the district [but t]he benefits to the students outweigh the costs.”

For more stories featuring successful online and blended learning programs, check out parts 1 and 2, as well as our special edition on alternative programs.

About the Author

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Where Learning Clicks

Since 1998, Edgenuity has been creating products and services that help all students achieve their full potential. As an extension of our efforts, we also produce Where Learning Clicks to share meaningful and timely ideas about trends, developments, and changes in education, as well as how to further incorporate technology into today’s classrooms.