How Online Learning Can Help Expand Learning Opportunities
By: Nga Huynh, Assistant Principal at Shrewsbury High School in Shrewsbury, MA.
With technology increasing students’ access to learning about different ideas, perspectives, and potential future careers, many high school students find themselves wanting to explore subjects outside of what is offered at their school. Many schools don’t have the means to offer coursework beyond the scope of their curriculum on their own, but fortunately, an online learning partner makes it possible for schools to expand learning options for students, enabling students to take Advanced Placement (AP)®, electives, and other specialized courses that their local school doesn’t offer.
Using VHS Learning to Expand Course Offerings with Online Learning
Here at Shrewsbury High School, we have always had a select group of students interested in coursework that stretched beyond the school’s curriculum, but we didn’t always have a way to meet those requests. For example, we always have students who want to take AP courses®––which can be especially hard for some schools to offer, as they require more resources and certified teachers.
For us, the solution to this was clear: partner with an online learning provider, so we became one of the first to partner with VHS Learning in the mid-1990s. As online learning has evolved into what it is today, our school has remained an active user of the nonprofit’s wide selection of online offerings. With VHS Learning, the school has been able to support students in all grades 9-12 to expand their education by taking courses online.
Enabling Students to Explore Learning Opportunities
At Shrewsbury, most of the students enrolled in VHS Learning are motivated by their interest in the subject matter and their affinity toward online learning. For example, one student who was interested in becoming a meteorologist was able to take a meteorology class online, while others interested in criminology enrolled in VHS Learning’s psychology of crime course. Another student used the program to learn more about genes and diseases with the goal of getting into the medical field.
The program is used predominantly by our juniors and seniors and is utilized for courses that our school does not offer face-to-face. Students apply to be in the online learning program, and they receive consistent support throughout the online learning process––both online and from the school’s counselors and me, as their site coordinator.
Support and Involvement is Key to Online Learning Success
It’s important to note that VHS Learning offers in-depth support to students, helping them to progress through coursework and stay on track with online assignments and deadlines. Students receive weekly emails that tell them where they are in terms of grades and progress, which also helps me know when to follow up and check in with an of our students who might be falling behind.
Our students always know they can reach out to their online teacher or me for additional guidance and support. This reliable support system makes the online learning experience smooth and accessible to diverse learners. Even students who are not the highest performers in a traditional classroom can find great success with VHS Learning because of the predictability and structure of online learning.
Nga Huynh is Assistant Principal at Shrewsbury High School in Shrewsbury, MA. She is also the school’s Primary Site Coordinator for the VHS Learning program.