Thursday, July 17, 2008

Virtual schooling in Oklahoma

In a letter to the editor published today in The Oklahoman, Jeff Elliott, president of Advanced Academics Inc., points out the benefits on online education. He writes:

"Small problem: Tiny schools face big challenges" (Our Views, July 7) states that rising costs may force up to 50 small school districts to consolidate in the coming year. Smaller school districts also face ongoing challenges in attracting and retaining quality instructors, as well as offering a wide selection of courses. One solution to these issues is online learning. As noted in "More state students are finding answers to their educational needs online" (news feature, June 30), growing numbers of Oklahoma public high school students already receive a flexible, quality education through virtual schools.

Virtual schools offer benefits to students, teachers and administrators. Students enrolled in virtual schools receive personalized attention from state-certified teachers and can concentrate their time on those areas in which they need the most help. Students enjoy robust course offerings, including electives and college preparatory classes that their local school may not offer. For teachers, virtual schools let them work one-on-one with students and customize the delivery of course material to each student's individual learning style, while the cost advantages of online education let administrators provide this option to their district at no additional cost.

Virtual schools aren't the answer for every district's problems. However, online learning is one way that smaller districts can offer a wide selection of academically rigorous courses within their budgetary constraints.

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