“Public Schools Expand Online Curriculum”

Larry Abramson @ NPR:

When senior Zack Jackson wanted to take a class in mythology, he wasn’t out of luck just because his small high school in rural Virginia didn’t offer it. Instead, he headed online.
The course comes courtesy of Virtual Virginia, a state program that offers dozens of online classes to middle and high school students. The program allows children to take classes that aren’t offered at their schools. Nationwide, programs like Virtual Virginia help hundreds of thousands of students take the kinds of unusual courses that make colleges sit up and take notice.
Most of the 3,000 students in the Virtual Virginia program enroll in online advanced placement courses. And thanks to the program, Zack’s school, Rappahannock County High, can offer more AP classes, allowing it to compete with local private schools, which often use AP courses as a selling point.
Principal Robyn Puryear says students have to be self-directed to succeed in an online class. Since online courses are self-paced, there’s a temptation to procrastinate — and that leads to trouble.

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Abramson’s article includes a chat with online Mandarin teacher Susan Cox. Virtual courses would seem to be ideal for a number of subjects that are often sparsely offered. Mandarin for example, is only available at Madison’s Memorial High School.