We’ve all heard how digital courses are the wave of the future. Schools across the country are using online courses to expand their course catalog so they can offer students more electives or honors or Advanced Placement® classes. Some districts have opted for digital curriculum to replace textbooks that quickly become out of date. Many districts now require students to complete at least one online course to help them develop 21st-century learning skills.
From an educator’s perspective, these are all excellent reasons to implement digital courses in an online or blended learning environment. But sometimes it is good to take a look at how online learning is sparking students’ success in a way that traditional courses never could.
Turning Learning Challenges into Learning Successes
Nine-year-old Gabe enrolled at Bonneville Online School (BOS) in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in the fall of 2015 with a medical diagnosis of ADHD and dyslexia as well as behavioral issues with his previous brick-and-mortar principal and classroom teacher. Initially, he was placed in grade-level curriculum. His learning coach—his mother—immediately realized this was too much for him. She was devastated to discover that his reading and other learning skills were well below grade level, and Gabe felt defeated by the learning process.
Gabe’s mother and teachers met as a team and began a special education referral process. They learned that, although there were significant holes in his learning, Gabe was highly capable and just needed the support of the right curriculum, a teacher who was willing to provide appropriate modifications, and a loving learning coach. They determined that no IEP was needed—instead, a 504 (defining accommodations) and the right curriculum were ordered.
With online courses from Fuel Education, Gabe was able to work at his own pace. A semester later, Gabe is a confident and enthusiastic learner. He doesn’t use his diagnosis or previous difficulties in school as an excuse not to be successful. He puts in the extra effort needed to stay on track and even works on Saturday mornings and school vacation days!
Overcoming Obstacles to Graduation
Hard work is nothing new to Yarima. At age six, she pumped gas at her uncle’s gas station. When she was 12, Yarima started caring for her great uncle, a disabled Vietnam veteran, while her mother worked three jobs to support the family. By the time Yarima entered high school, her great uncle required almost constant care. She would miss months of school at a time, and when she did try to attend her local high school, she felt hopelessly lost. When her great uncle passed away, Yarima and her family lost their home.
By her junior year, Yarima was working two jobs and often didn’t get home until after midnight. School just didn’t fit into her schedule until she found Falcon Virtual Academy in Colorado Springs. Here she was able to take FuelEd Online Courses at home, and get face-to-face instruction and support at the district’s blended learning facility. This gave Yarima the flexibility she needed to complete her online courses between jobs. On May 17, 2015, Yarima received her diploma and a whole new world of opportunities opened up to her. Watch this video to learn more about how Yarima overcame obstacles to graduate.
Staying On Track throughout Illness
Lydia, a student at Bend Lapine Online in Colorado, is among the many students who have been highly successful in the traditional school and also benefits from the blended program. She was a very strong student, driven to the point of being a contender for school valedictorian. When she developed an eating disorder that required her to go into a residential treatment program, Lydia was concerned that she would fall behind in her classes. Her parents were afraid that if she was not able to keep up with her classes, Lydia’s anxiety would increase, which could worsen her eating disorder. But her treatment program was in another state, so the only way that she could continue with classes would be if she could take them online.
The school’s solution was to use the Fuel Education technology platform to allow teachers to stay in contact with her, and online instructional materials so that she could continue to make progress in her courses. When she re-entered the school, she found that she had not lost any time, and could pick up where each of her classes were. She not only graduated, but was school salutatorian.
These are a few examples of ways digital courses are sparking student success. To learn more about what students think about online learning, download this white paper released earlier this year by the Evergreen Education Group.
This article was contributed by FuelEducation. FuelEd partners with schools and districts to provide students equitable learning opportunities that are personalized to serve each student’s different interests and learning style, no matter their level. FuelEd offers digital curriculum in all subjects for grades; instruction, training, support, and other services that are critical for a successful online or blended program; and an open, easy-to-use learning platform that provides actionable data on each student and enables teachers to customize content. FuelEd is co-sponsoring Kinvolved’s Data Driven Leadership Summit on October 19th, 2017.