Virtual schools trend among the parents
Virtual schools have seen a steady growth in the country, such as new technology arises.
PHOENIX – The alarm will sound. Students swing their backpacks over the shoulders of the board of directors the school bus, their way to their homeroom, and the bell—school is back in session. But for more homes in America, back-to-school seems to be more awake, students will make their way naar…de dining room or home office, setting up a laptop and learn from the comfort of home.
Virtual education, is defined as “a public school that offers only instruction in which students and teachers are separated by time and/or location, and interaction occurs via computers and/or telecommunications technologies,” has increased in the last ten years. According to the National Education Policy Center, enrollment in virtual schools increased by 17,000 students between 2015-16 and 2016-17 to 295,518 students.
“This is not going anywhere,” Dr. Kelly Van Sande, Arizona Virtual Academy head of school, said. “As the school choice movement really takes over our country and give the parents a voice say,” I know what is best for my child—I know what is best for my child to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar school, or to attend a charter school or an online public charter school, or even homeschool.’ That choice is up to the parents to ensure that we listen to the parents’ voice, as they are the ones who know best for their own child.”
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For Arizona Virtual Academy, a full-time online public K-12 charter school, they use the K12 Inc. curriculum. K12 serves students in all 50 states and more than 100 countries with digital learning environments and technology; providing online and blended education.
Students can essentially wake up at home or in another state, when you are travelling with family or for their sports or music-importance—open your laptop and start to work right away. There is also a new learning management system for the upcoming school year that creates a more personalized experience for students.
“We have always been promoting our platforms and the technology we use to ensure that the to keep pace with the changing trends, not only with education but also with the technique,” Dr. Of Sande said.
Another piece of new technology they have rolled out is a new app where parents can find virtual schools in their area. With effect from 2017, 34 states had a full-time virtual schools, and 29 states had blended schools, which are hybrid schools that combine online and classroom learning.
Carrie Faulkner chose to enroll two of her children in Arizona Virtual Academy.
Carrie Faulkner chose to enroll two of her children in Arizona Virtual Academy. She says that they have done training online in Chicago, California, in the restaurants and on her cousin’s floor in Kansas.
“It doesn’t matter if he (her son) on the couch, in bed, on the kitchen table, he can to the school where he wants to,” Faulkner said. “I wish they had it for me back when I was in school. That would be wonderful. I think the kids are just very blessed. It is the institution, they do as big as they have jobs because they already know how to make a plan, achieve, and know how to plan their day.”
“It doesn’t matter if he (her son) on the couch, in bed, on the kitchen table, he can to the school where he wants to,” Faulkner said.
What drew Faulkner and her husband to virtual education is the ability to work around her son, Campbell’s, schedule. Campbell has a Mitochondrial disease, and with him in the virtual school, Faulkner says he is perfect attendance, even taking rigorous courses. He had the time after completing a course of training for the start of the day with a non-profit.
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It is also led Faulkner, the daughter of a incoming high school freshmen, to enroll in the virtual school. They can then focus on her passion in video, arts and crafts, and cooking after the finish of the school for the day.
“You really learn time management, because you need to make sure that you can understand, but then you also need to be able to a number of different classes happening all in one day,” Campbell said. “That way, you can follow the progress and the realization of all your lessons throughout the year.”
Campbell also says, it is great to have all that technology, if he can talk with teachers and classmates in live classroom settings, online.
“I support whatever choice a parent or parents. I say all the time, God gives children to parents, not government bureaucracies. So, it is up to them to make the best decisions.”
– Diane Douglas, Arizona Public Instruction superintendent
Online education is also seeing an increase in the traditional public school setting, with more school districts offering online courses for the students. Diane Douglas, Arizona Public Instruction superintendent, says the school chooses depends on each individual child and what works best for one student may not work for another.
“I support whatever choice a parent or parents to make,” Douglas said. “I say all the time,” God gives children to parents, not government bureaucracies.’ So, it is up to them to make the best decisions.”
While virtual schooling is on the rise in homes, homeschooling is also becoming more and more like a non-traditional option for parents. The most recent survey of the AMERICAN Ministry of Education showed 1.8 million children were homeschooled in 2012; an increase from the 1.1 million homeschooled in 2002.
The main difference between virtual schooling and homeschooling is that it is funded by the government and there is a set of teachers students are assigned to “virtual” —through an online curriculum where they can interact with teachers and other students online. Whereas with homeschooling, it is privately funded by each of the parents and the parents of the teachers.
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Allison Gentala is a member of the council with her husband to Arizona Families For Home Education. They have eight children and decided to homeschool all of them and says that it will give them more time and freedom to their passions, such as music or robotics.
“I really wanted to be involved in the education of my children, and it’s really to teach them,” Gentala said. “But the virtual academies are an excellent choice for people who want their children of the public schools, but still have a teacher of their children, but they have in their house.”
Parents opting for these alternatives to a traditional classroom setting for a variety of reasons. The most recent government survey on the reason why parents homeschool their children to show parents’ reasons showed more than half had a concern about environment of other schools a desire to provide moral instruction a dissatisfaction with academic education at other schools, or a desire to provide religious instruction.
For virtual education in Arizona, there is no way back—on the way to the future with this virtual school, technology in the forefront—starting with the first day of school of a laptop next week.
“We are preparing students today for jobs that may not even exist at this point, especially if we look at the technology fields and business fields—have the skills that they achieve by communicating and working in an online environment will prepare them for what lies ahead in the future”, Dr. Of Sande said.
Charlie Lapastora is a multimedia reporter based in Phoenix, Ariz.