Atlanta Public Schools (APS) kicked off its summer pilot of the Atlanta Virtual Academy (AVA) on Friday, June 14th. AVA provides online learning opportunities for APS students. Over 100 students are enrolled in the current summer session that runs through July 26th.
“The first few days have been very exciting,” said Doryiane Gunter, APS Program Manager for Virtual Learning. “The students were eager to take their courses online. I’m very excited about the enthusiasm the students possess. I think providing this opportunity for students gives them hope, and they really want to be successful.”
Students from high schools throughout the district can earn credit online by taking classes through the Virtual Academy in addition to their regular schedule. During the school year students can take one additional course (one full credit) in addition to their regular schedule. During the summer students can take two courses. Currently middle school students can take Personal Fitness and Health the summer prior to the start of their 9th grade year.
AVA courses work like face-to-face classes. Students complete lesson activities, homework, class discussions, and tests. Teachers are available to students throughout the entire length of the course. Atlanta Virtual Academy teachers are available to talk to students or parents via email or telephone. The Virtual Academy Program Manager and teacher maintain contact with someone at the student’s school and/or a parent to provide updates on progress and discuss appropriate support and encouragement if a student appears to be falling behind. Course instructors also have required office hours. During this time they are available to assist students and address any questions or concerns.
The primary difference in the courses is that the course activities happen over the Internet. Students are required to login daily for an average of 20-24 hours each week. Fall and spring session students should spend 12-15 hours per week in the course. This requires that students have access to a working computer and an Internet connection. If courses are taken during the school day at school, the school will provide a lab and a computer. If courses are taken outside of the school day in addition to the regular schedule, the student is responsible for their own technology.
This summer registered students were able to choose from a range of course offerings including Personal Fitness, Health, select math courses, American Literature, Biology, Economics, U.S. History and more.
Summer 2013 Course Offerings
|Math I A/B||Biology A/B|
|Math II A/B||Physical Science A/B|
|Math IV A/B|
|9TH Lit A/B||Economics|
|American Lit A/B||U.S. History A/B|
Students are currently using blackboard as the learning management system for AVA courses. APS selected Blackboard Learn™ as its first district-wide learning management system (LMS) after a nine-month evaluation of leading commercial and open-source platforms. The district will use Blackboard Learn to rapidly expand online classes offered to students and to align all class content with Common Core standards. District leaders found Blackboard Learn to be the best option for expanding the offerings for the Virtual Academy.
The district plans to increase course offerings and student enrollment for the fall session, in addition to working with many of the non-traditional and alternative learning programs to supplement course offerings.
“Our hope is that we are able to increase the graduation rate and increase the number of flexible learning opportunities for students,” Gunter explained.
Registration for the fall is open from July 22nd-August 16th. Fall courses will begin on August 26th. For more information visit www.atlantapublicschools.us/ava
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