Utah’s online education buzz

A lot of buzz is surrounding online education right now with Sen. Howard Stephenson’s proposal for a statewide online education program, S.B. 65. Last week, I posted some facts about Utah’s Electronic High School and today I’m back with more information about Utah’s online education options. In addition to EHS, housed at the Utah State Office of Education, there are also two public charter schools specializing in online education.

The Open High School of Utah was featured in a Huffington Post op-ed penned by edReformer.com’s Tom Vander Ark. In it he says Open High School of Utah is, “making an important contribution to American education while shattering the mold of traditional learning.”

The school was also mentioned in November in an address U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan made to the State Educational Technology Directors Association Forum. Duncan held up the Open High School of Utah as an example of how digital learning is positively transforming education in this country.

Open High School is often singled out for its open source curriculum. It’s the first secondary school to create its curriculum using open source educational resources and then to share it as an open source resource for free. Hence, the school caught the eye of OpenSource.com.

Open High School of Utah also received another recent accolade when one of its science teachers, Amy Pace, was selected of one of 103 best seventh through twelfth grade science technology and math educators in the country. Pace traveled to Washington D.C. in November to accept a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Technology

“The way I am able to teach science in an online environment empowers me with the tools I need to engage these digital natives in a way that both excites and interests them in these critical STEM courses,” this 11-year teaching veteran said.

As a side note, Pace wasn’t the only Utah teacher to receive this honor. She was joined by fellow Utah public school teacher Janet Sutorius, who has taught math at Juab High School for 23 years.

She said, “I am humbled and absolutely thrilled that my best could elicit this prestigious tribute. To me this award means that I have made a difference in the lives of my students and colleagues.”

The Utah Virtual Academy is another Utah charter school that offers online courses, but it offers a full K-12 curriculum. In fact, the online provider the school uses is called K12 Inc.

From the website:

The Utah Virtual Academy uses the flexible curriculum from K¹², which is based on decades of education research about how minds really work. With courses in six core subjects, the curriculum was designed to let K-8 kids find the pace and learning style that work best for them and to enable high school students to find their own path to post–high school success.

The curriculum is wrapped with rich, engaging content that turns minds on. The minds that usually wander when traditional classes are too slow. The minds that get lost in the shuffle. The minds that need a little more time.  

Students learn Language Arts, Math, Science, History, Art, Music, and Physical Education as core courses. High school students also take a foreign language course, and have access to A1P courses as well. World languages are also offered to K-8 students as an extracurricular activity. Plus, throughout the year, students participate in school outings, like field trips, picnics, and other social events.

They have a great website with resources for prospective students, including common myths about online education debunked.

The school’s leader Jeffrey Herr will speak at the upcoming Early Education and Technology Conference, which will bring global leaders in this field to Salt Lake City next month.

Other online education opportunities also might be available at your neighborhood school or charter school that aren’t outlined here. Contact them to learn more about Utah’s online education options.

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