View Full Version : Online High School

11-21-2014, 09:31 PM
In one of my stories, the main character goes to an online public high school (you see commercials for them all the time in Minnesota).

I've only just started doing research into them. I've looked at the curriculum and how one would go about getting enrolled, but now I need to know the finer points. Do the students get free e-book textbooks? Are lectures done my reading posts or do teachers give video lectures? Can students interact with other students on forums? Do classes as a whole work on a forum base?

Anyone who has experience with online high schools, you input would be greatly appreciated.

11-21-2014, 09:41 PM
While it wasn't high school, I did complete my MBA all through online courses offered by a real-physical university with a real campus (not to knock all-online-universities, just to clarify my experience).

Textbooks were not free. If the professor/instructors had permission from the publishers they could give excerpts or entire books for the course, but for all my experience we had to purchase the textbooks ourselves. Thus, you could get a physical or e-book, whatever worked for you.

Lectures were done by reading instructor's notes (and forum posts where applicable), and/or watching videos. Most my instructors just posted a few pages worth of notes that constituted lectures, a few had short five minutes-or-less videos.

All student interaction was done over a web forum (like AW). The instructors would also interact in the forum. Frequently we would have weekly "Discussions" where a topic would be posted in a thread, and we'd all have to post an original response, and make at least two or three replies to other students' original response.

(E.g.: This weeks' discussion is on international corporations. What do you think are the challenges, benefits, etc.

Everyone makes one post discussing their thoughts, then everyone makes at least 2-3 comments on the original thoughts. Instructors make comments throughout, usually to bring out more discussion).

I'm not sure what you mean when you ask, "Do classes as a whole work on a forum base?", but the forum was the primary method of communication, and everyone worked at their own pace and their own schedule within a given week (e.g. your homework is due Friday at 11:59 PM, but you can work on it and submit it anytime before that).

ETA: the web-host was called Blackboard (I think). My undergrad-university used it as well but to a lesser extent since it was more a supplement rather than primary teaching method (which was being in the physical classroom).

11-21-2014, 09:48 PM
Textbooks were not free. If the professor/instructors had permission from the publishers they could give excerpts or entire books for the course, but for all my experience we had to purchase the textbooks ourselves. Thus, you could get a physical or e-book, whatever worked for you.
The thing is, though, Minnesota Online Public School is supposed to operate just like an ordinary public school, where textbooks are provided.

11-21-2014, 10:53 PM
We're enrolled in Epic (http://epiccharterschools.org/), an online charter school here in Oklahoma. There are a couple of different ways to go about it, depending on your student's age http://epiccharterschools.org/programs/.

All of our kids are in middle school or above, and we're using One-on-One. We opted for iPads instead of laptops. We have the Learning Fund to pay for different curricula as well. We're using it to pay for Homeschool Band as a music elective, and dance classes for one of our daughters.

This is our first year for Epic (had previously done roll-your-own typical homeschooling), and Epic had a tremendous growth this year, so there have been some growing pains on both ends.

But basically we meet with the teacher once every couple of weeks to go over any trouble areas. She lives about an hour away, and has a bunch of students; she comes to the library here in town to meet us. The kids have to accomplish a certain percentage of their lesson each week, and have to log in every so often, or they're counted as truant. Each lesson typically has a video presentation of some sort, followed by a short quiz, as well as chapter tests every so often.

I'd like to see student-on-student interaction, but that's not part of the Epic program we're using. OKVHS may be different.

11-21-2014, 11:54 PM
I went to an online high school called Insight School of Washington which is run by k12 (they bought it in my sophomore year and we ended up switching systems, which was a big pain, but that's another story :Shrug:).

The course curriculum usually included free e-books. Some courses did actually get me free physical books that I'd send back at the end of the semester. My physics class used an online book, my history courses usually involved giant physical textbooks, and my English classes used a mixture of both online and physical books. All of which were free :)

Speaking of free, they also sent me a computer to use and a printer. Both were expected to be given back when I graduated and they provided shipping labels. I think as the years went on they started asking who actually needed a laptop to use, but when I first started they just sent them out to everyone.

If you've heard of Blackboard/Elluminate, that's what they used for classes. Each teacher would hold a 'class' once a week. Most teachers didn't use video, but talked and used a PowerPoint presentation. In Washington they recently made it required that students go to at least one hour of 'class' a week. For people who couldn't make it to any of their schedules classes, there were labs that ran basically all day for math and English that counted for that credit.

There were discussion boards. Each unit had a 'raise your hand' section for questions related to the course work. Every now and again there would be a separate forum for students to answer a question posed by the teacher or to talk about what they thought of a book. Not sure if that gives a good enough image of it, but basically, yes, there are discussion boards/forums. Although there wasn't a forum for the whole school, just for each class. They did have a Facebook page for students to connect on, though.

And you didn't ask, but I think it's sort of relevant so I'll just say it. There were some in person events. It's a state wide school, so often they weren't in my area, but they existed. Those events include graduation and prom (all grades could go to prom, too). Graduation was held at a community college gym and prom was in another building at the same college. They also did things like discounts for game tickets and trips to the aquarium, that sort of thing. So kind of like field trips.

Anyway, that's what it was like at my school, at least. I just graduated in June, so pretty recently. Hopefully that answers your questions thoroughly enough and makes sense, but if there's anything else you want to know, I'm happy to answer! :hi:

11-22-2014, 06:57 AM
Spy, it may also depend on what state you are setting your story in, as to the particular ways in which the public online high school operates. And it also depends on whether you are talking about a traditional public school with an online component, a charter school, etc. And then you need to think about whether the school is a 'franchise', if you will, of a national online schooling system, or, since you mentioned Minnesota, whether they are an independent online high school. BlueSky Online High School in Minnesota is an example of an independent charter school that has set up their own curriculum, while abiding by MN's state education standards. So, they are very likely to go about things very differently from Minnesota Online High School, versus TRIO Wolf Creek Distance Learning and others.

A good way to learn a little more about their curriculum and how they approach things is to peruse their individual school websites, where they should list some of this information. Or, contact the school administrators - I know some of the folks at these schools would probably be happy to share a little bit of knowledge with you once you explain what you are up to. Feel free to PM me if you need some suggested contacts (I used to work with the education sector in Minnesota).

11-22-2014, 07:05 AM
I teach for Florida Virtual School.
Our lessons for students aren't found on an online version of a textbook, the lessons were made by our curriculum team that everyone in that subject uses. These change on occasion as the state standards change and adapt/get dropped.

Most of the lessons are set up similar to a pop-up book where you open the lesson, and within the lesson are smaller sections you can expand for different examples, some practice problems, videos are embedded in the lesson often as well.

Students take their assessments on the same site and for Math, most assignments are multiple choice with a couple written assignments (basically solve it and show your work or prove someone wrong). Before students take a test they have a Discussion Based Assessment (phone call quiz) to make sure they're ready for the test with me and then I give them the password to take the test.

In the course we also have extra help videos (prerecorded) and some of the tougher lessons are offered as Live Lessons Monday-Thursday each week that are like a chatroom students sign into and a teacher leads them through a lesson and they work together on an assignment.

Depending on the study habit of the characters you have, I break students of mine down into the following groups:
-The ones I have to call every week to make sure they did their work (we need 4 assignments a week and if you don't work for 3+ weeks you get withdrawn)
-The ones that cheat ALL THE TIME and eventually get kicked out (I can Google the question and find where you got your answer too!)
-The ones that do their work really quick but skip the written ones (this makes going back a pain in the ass since they probably didn't read through the lesson)
-The slow but consistent (I call a little more than the normal once each 3 weeks just to make sure they didn't get caught up at school)
-The absent who consistently ride the withdraw line from lack of work (many have sports or other "life" events going on and I do feel bad for some of them)
-The kid who actually does their stuff ( I think they're plants by our principals to lead us on that kids like math).

There's a lot on the teacher end I could tell you about if you had any questions. Feel free to PM me if you have more specific questions down the road.