HOW TO CHOOSE A VIRTUAL EDUCATION PROVIDER
There is a lot to think about when deciding which virtual education provider is right for your child's educational needs. We break down some of the key aspects that you should consider.
HOW TO CHOOSE: LIVE VERSUS SELF-PACED
DOES THE WAY CLASS CONTENT IS PROVIDED MEET YOUR CHILD'S LEARNING STYLE?
This is probably the most important difference between the various virtual education providers in Missouri and deciding which style to go with will depend entirely on how your child learns best.
Some providers offer live virtual classrooms where your child can interact with the teacher and other classmates through the computer. These types of classes are best for students who learn best in a social environment and want to replicate the brick-and-mortar school experience from the comfort and safety of their home.
Many providers offer coursework through online portals that allow students to learn and complete objectives at their own pace. Students can do the work at any time of the day that works best for them, and they typically communicate with their instructors through email or chat features in the learning platform. These types of classes are best for students who are good at managing their own time and responsibilities and do not need direct real-time feedback from an instructor.
Some providers offer a hybrid approach where students complete some coursework on their own time and then also have live check-ins with their instructor and/or class.
HOW TO CHOOSE: A LA CARTE VERSUS COMPLETE PROGRAM
DOES YOUR CHILD JUST NEED A COUPLE OF CLASSES OR DO THEY WANT A FULL, IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE?
This is easily the second biggest difference to consider when choosing between virtual education providers.
HOW TO CHOOSE: FOCUSING ON PROVIDER SPECIALTIES
DOES THE PROVIDER FOCUS ON A SPECIFIC TYPE OF COURSE?
Different providers have developed their courses and platforms to excel in meeting specific educational needs. You check to see what their specialties are and align those with your child's needs.
Many of the MOCAP approved virtual education providers offer courses individually. These are intended to help students who need to retake a course they failed (credit recovery), take a course that is not being offered at their school currently (many times a foreign language or Advanced Placement course the local district cannot afford to offer), or take a course virtually to free up room in their schedule to take an elective they are interested in.
Several programs offer a full school experience where students take all of their courses for the year or semester virtually. Classes in these programs are sometimes designed to build off of one another and students have real-time access to teachers and counselors through the virtual provider. These programs frequently also offer a wide range of clubs and other activities for their students to interact with other virtual education students.
BUILD YOUR OWN
Missouri students are not limited to taking virtual education courses from only one provider. If a family wants to create their own full-time program using individual courses from multiple providers to meet the needs of their students this is also a viable option, although it is likely that it will be a bigger battle to get it approved by their local distrcit.
COURSES DESIGNED TO HELP STRUGGLING STUDENTS
Some courses and platforms are designed to help students who are working to make up classes with which they have struggled. These courses frequently have built-in supports to help students read class materials as well as increased checks to make sure the student is fully grasping key content.
COURSES DESIGNED FOR HIGH PERFORMING STUDENTS
Some courses and platforms are focused on providing high-level courses like Advanced Placement courses or dual-enrollment college-level courses. These types of courses will be more strenuous, but may better meet the needs of high performing students who need a bigger challenge when learning from home.
CAREER READINESS COURSES
Some providers have developed virtual education programs that are designed to help students who want to move directly into the workforce after graduation. These programs focus on key skills desired by different industries and many even include memberships to student Career and Technical Education (CTE) associations.
WHAT MATERIALS ARE PROVIDED FOR THE COURSE?
Some providers offer all of their content through an online portal while others will send textbooks and equipment like microscopes to aid in your child's learning. Some providers supply computers for your child hers while others expect you to provide all of the technology needed to succeed in the course. You should check on what is offered based on what you need.