Over the past 6 years, the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) has become an important institution in New Hampshire public education. Offering online courses that any New Hampshire student can take at no cost, VLACS dramatically expands the options available to New Hampshire students.
NHPR has just done a thorough two-part review of how VLACS works day-to-day for both students and teachers. The first installment provides the basics.
On this morning, Kent and Baird are also doing a kind of oral quiz, which are a big part of every course.
“Did you find that connecting the learning to your real world experience helped the learning to seem more meaningful to you?” she asks
“Yes and it also seemed more exciting and easier when I was putting it off on real world examples,” he responds.
VLACS teachers build their own schedule. When they aren’t in these pre-scheduled online meetings, or grading exams, VLACS teachers have daily “office hours,” which are sometimes late in the evening. They log into a digital classroom and are available to answer questions. Throughout the day they are responding to questions over email or instant messenger, or prodding students who aren’t getting their work done fast enough.
And the second installment draws on national experts to review how well VLACS is working:
“All of the things that they’re doing are meeting with what we know from the research, and in all honesty are fairly consistent with the kinds of things that you see classroom teachers wanting to do if they had the time,” says Michael Barbour, a professor at Sacred Heart University, and studies best practices in k-12 online education.
VLACS is growing fast and has become a major portion of the New Hampshire charter school budget, so it’s great to have this thorough review.