Guest Post by Tim Handorf
To us, virtual high schools sound like something from The Jetsons, but instead of existing in a world with robot maids and flying cars, they’re here today, and they are really cool. These online schools offer incredible opportunities to homeschoolers, dropouts returning to high school, students with busy schedules, and others who just enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and opportunity provided by virtual learning. We’ve discovered 10 really impressive virtual high schools, including tuition-free and even 3D virtual world schools, that we hope you’ll check out.
Virtual High School, founded in 1996, is among the very first virtual high schools ever created. Their typical student is one from a brick-and-mortar high school, taking courses that are not offered on campus. Ashley Munroe, a student from Westerly High School in Rhode Island is taking Mandarin Chinese from VHS, a course designed to further her future career in political science. Teachers involved with the VHS program laud it as “the future of teaching and learning” and “great college prep,” as it allows students to work independently, budgeting their time to meet deadlines, even as they complete other classes at a brick-and-mortar institution.
Ever wonder what it’s like to go to high school in a 3D virtual world? WiloStar3D’s students don’t have to wonder; they know. Through this interactive online homeschooling program, students study in an interactive 3D campus environment that is an ideal setting for gifted, bright students that enjoy creative opportunities. In addition to being an awesome 3D world, WiloStar3D shares innovative educational methodologies, including online role playing, video gaming, and other educational technology offerings.
Stanford University Online High School
Students can attend Stanford University before they’ve even left the seventh grade. Through Stanford’s Online High School program, gifted students can enjoy a challenging educational program administered by the highly respected university. Like VHS, Stanford’s OHS program is designed to be a college preparatory experience for students, sharing a flexible college-style class schedule that helps students build time management skills. But perhaps one of the most interesting things about Stanford’s program is that it goes beyond the online classroom, bringing students together through clubs and an intensive residential summer program at the university, giving students the opportunity to experience education on a college campus at a young age.
Insight School of Minnesota
This online public high school offers more than 120 courses benefiting from nationally-recognized curriculum, part of a program that is highly individualized and offers multiple paths that each student can choose. As a public school, it is tuition-free (really), and even provides its students with school-issued laptops. Unlike many virtual high schools, Insight makes it a point to offer extracurricular activities, including dances, graduation ceremonies, and field trips, all designed to bring their online students together socially.
Primavera Online High School
Another tuition-free public high school, Primavera offers a high quality of education to its students for absolutely nothing. This school’s program is based on active discussion, interactive workbooks, and even blogs that keep students connected to their instructors and classmates. Courses utilize a multimedia-based format that is enjoyable for modern students, and the school has courses that start every two weeks, offering lots of flexibility for students who need it. Primavera has fun events, including a prom, graduation, concerts, and college day. There are several clubs available to students at Primavera as well, including Young Parent Support Group and Student Government.
K12′s virtual school is one of the biggest providers of online high school education, offering its stand-alone site, as well as branded sites licensed by a number of school districts. Both options offered by K12 deliver impressive results. Through a combination of state of the art lessons, individual learning plans, and supportive learning coaches, students enrolled in K12′s courses are able to not only do well, but perform better than their peers in brick-and-mortar schools. In the 2010-2011 school year, K12 students outperformed the Scantron Norm Group in all grades in reading, and in eight of nine grades in math. In this school, students are expected to take an active role in their education, with parents or teachers performing a supportive role, an arrangement that results in independent, thoughtful students.
BYU Independent Study
Brigham Young University offers an online independent study program with not just high school level courses, but university, middle school, and personal enrichment courses as well, with more than 500 courses available. What we’re really impressed by is BYU’s level of support offering instructor-guided courses, including live video chats, online discussion board collaborations, and even interactive labs. Non-credit courses are free, and scholarship opportunities are available for high school students. High school students between 14 and 18 years old can complete a standard or advanced high school program through BYU’s online school and receive an official transcript.
Penn Foster has been in the business of distance learning for more than 75 years, and they’ve recently gone virtual, offering online education for students starting at grade nine. There is a full diploma program for students in high school, and the school is among the lowest for tuition rates associated with all-inclusive diploma programs. Penn Foster is well-suited for high school students with vocational interest, as it offers vocational courses and full career programs, giving students a great opportunity to prepare for their future career, even in high school. Penn Foster is also excellent for students who have dropped out, need to complete their diploma, or would like to participate in Advanced Placement classes that their own high school may not provide.
Like many others, the Carpe Diem Collegiate School mixes virtual education with brick-and-mortar classroom learning, creating a blended learning school with amazing academic gains. Carpe Diem’s approach to learning has really paid off, reaching a level of 95% proficiency in all subjects in Arizona, a state with about 50% proficiency. We’re impressed by this school’s performance, but we’re even more interested in Carpe Diem’s students: many of the school’s students suffer from great socioeconomic challenges and have a history of struggling academically.
Allied National High School
Designed with homeschoolers in mind, Allied National High School is one of the most flexible virtual high schools available to students today. Students can take college prep courses, take advantage of transfer options, earn college credit, and enroll at any time of the year. ANHS has flexible scheduling and start dates, so students can set their own schedule and work at a comfortable pace, making it an ideal option for students who need to earn additional credits, get a head start, or earn college credit. After high school, ANHS students can move on to Allied American University, the school’s college option.
previously published here
- Virtual School, Wisconsin Connections Academy, Announces Grade Expansion; Adds Online High School for Students Statewide (prweb.com)
- Connections Learning Partners With Virtual High School To Expand Core Course Offering (prweb.com)
- Is a virtual school the best option for the next generation? (zdnet.com)
- Connections Academy, Leading Virtual School Provider, Graduates Record Number of Seniors (prweb.com)
- Dimensionu Extends Agreement With Connections Education To Offer Game-Based Learning Solution To Virtual School Students Nationwide (prweb.com)
- The ABCs of virtual school success (mamasbagoftricks.blogspot.com)
- Online VS. Traditional High School (radicalparenting.com)
- Fairfax high school considers going virtual (zdnet.com)
- Huntsville school board approves Lee High fence, discusses New Century ‘virtual school’ (al.com)
- Online High School & GED Programs (knowyoureducation.com)