In our mid-winter newsletter, we shared some advice from successful high school students who received portions of their education at a distance, through ADLC.
This article describes the experiences of a few elementary-aged students who receive some of their instruction from ADLC teachers. Using Google Meet, we interviewed four students—Elliott, Shelley, Gillian and Abigail, with their parents present. These students are 10 and 11 years old.
Why some families choose distance education
While the reasons for choosing distance delivery varied, each student and family did their research before selecting ADLC to provide distance education delivery. One common reason for choosing ADLC was the flexibility of pacing that we provide. Some other distance education providers require synchronous presence based on a daily schedule. These families chose ADLC so that their kids could work at their own pace and on a schedule that worked with the rest of their family life. For instance, one of the students has a rigorous training program associated with her chosen sport. Being able to do school work during evenings and weekends provides her with the opportunity to excel at her sport.
The children and their parents value the support they get from their ADLC teachers. One of the students in particular really likes that she gets to talk to her teacher often in Google Meets: “It’s pretty nice. I get to talk to my teacher lots on Google Meet – at least 2 times per week.”
Parents noted that they are much more aware of what their children are learning, partly because they are so involved and partly because the teachers give very specific and regular feedback to students and parents.
Parents help students learn online
Of course, every parent has a role in their child’s education and with distance learning, that role is also very important. These parents had all set up places in the home where their child does their school work. One of them showed us the calendars and color-coded tracking sheets they used to help keep their daughter on pace. Being so closely involved also helps with conversations about learning. “We know she is learning about electricity and magnets and we constantly ask her how it applies in daily life.”
When asked about the work, the kids were honest, saying, “Last year was a bit of work and adjustment but once we got the hang of it, it was good.” Another said the course was “a bit repetitive” and “it could be less long”, and she also wanted to get started on the next grade. She wasn’t the only one who was looking ahead. Others asked about summer school or were wondering about next year. One of the parents had heard about funding issues and expressed concern.
Online learning addresses all of the learning outcomes
The parents of the students we interviewed also described their respect for the academic expectations in ADLC courses. They appreciated that all of the learning outcomes are fully addressed. One mentioned that they considered themselves to be fortunate to have been enrolled with ADLC when COVID-19 forced learning-at-home for all students.
“Those now learning at home have their ‘homework’ prioritized, chapters skipped etc., but with ADLC, [our daughter] will still cover all the outcomes and more.”
The closure of schools for the pandemic has meant that most parents across the province experienced a version of learning-at-home over the past few months. Parents of ADLC students (and the students themselves) were in an advantageous position because they were already engaged in learning at a distance. They were ready and able to continue to receive the full set of outcomes for each course, rather than the reduced load required by students who had been in class.
As we look ahead to the fall, the uncertainty about learning continues. It won’t be surprising to see many current ADLC students looking to return next year with an eye to taking their full academic program at a distance.
Continuity of learning for full time online students
ADLC does not accept “full time” registration of any students, but Vista Virtual School (VVS) does. Alberta’s largest online school uses versions of courses created by the Alberta Distance Learning Centre to provide students with a full complement of academic opportunities. Full time grade 1-12 students of VVS benefit from experienced online teachers who deliver all of the content in each of Alberta’s programs of study. Children can enjoy the continuity, flexibility and safety of a full online educational program.
VVS is now accepting registrations for full time grades 1-12 students for the 2020-2021 school year. If you are interested, call 1-855-974-5333, ext 5317 or visit www.vvschool.ca for more information.
We want to thank Elliot, Gillian, Abigail and Shelley, and their parents, for taking the time to chat with us. We sincerely appreciate hearing your perspectives. We believe your experiences to be representative of many other students.