Virtual Academy opens in Indiana

Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) has taken another step in support of its 1-to-1 computing efforts begun last fall. With the opening of the the EVSC Virtual Academy, students will now be able to take online classes for advancement or credit recovery. Teachers, too, will be able to take advantage of this curriculum by integrating virtual elements into their regular classes.

“Students may work at their own pace, recover credits when necessary, and work in an engaging, interactive atmosphere,” said Superintendent Vince Bertram. “Teachers may also integrate sections of the online courses to supplement the classroom experience or courses may be taken entirely online.” He added that the EVSC Virtual Academy is not just an offering for EVSC students, but for high school students anywhere.

Courses will be facilitated by EVSC teachers using the accredited Apex Learning System; course pathways include Literacy Advantage, Core, Honors and Advanced Placement.

Jason Bailey, director of eLearning and instructional technology, said online courses like EVSC’s will allow teachers to reach kids where they are most engaged – using technology. “Our plan for this school year is to help teachers think of ways to use the curriculum in Apex in their classrooms, extending the use of the one-to-one netbook initiative, to create a more robust, engaging class,” Bailey said. “We also want to encourage students to think how this curriculum could help them get where they want to be.”

Bailey explained that teachers have been attending Tech Tuesdays at the EVSC’s new Technology and Innovation Center, where they can get one-on-one help with the various kinds of applications offered in classrooms today. An eLearning conference with more than 250 high school teachers is planned later in July, as well.

This summer, the EVSC has had approximately 300 junior and senior students taking courses in summer school, where the Apex Learning credit recovery classes were being used. “In just three weeks, 144 students have already earned 212 credits that they need for graduation, and more students are completing each day,” Bailey said.

"Information is presented in 'chunks' consistent with the way students read successfully on the web,” said Janet Leistner, director of the EVSC Virtual Academy. “We have been so excited this summer watching students in summer school work and master classes that they needed for credit.”

Courses are offered for a full year or for one semester at a time and include English, French, Geography, U.S. History, U.S. and Global Economics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, Algebra I and II, AP Macroeconomics, AP Calculus, and AP Chemistry, among others.

Apex Learning courses offered by the EVSC Virtual Academy are accredited through the North Central Association and meet the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) standards for instruction. In addition, the courses have been approved by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as meeting the requirements for establishing the initial-eligibility certification status for high school student athletes wishing to compete in college.

Students may enroll in the EVSC Virtual Academy at any time and work at their own pace. For students who are enrolled with the EVSC, there will be no fee for virtual academy courses delivered via Apex Learning. Some supplemental materials will be required in Apex courses.

“All of this has a singular goal,” Bailey emphasized. “Student success, whether in a traditional classroom or through accredited online courses, is our focus.”