Its Flexibility Draws One Family to Virtual School

| May 17, 2011 | 7 Comments
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Because her husband’s military career kept the family on the move, Patti Joubert — the mother of two full-time students at Florida Virtual School (FLVS) — always homeschooled her daughters. Now that they’re in high school, Joubert wanted to find a more resource-enriched alternative.

“[Online schools] offer extra classes that aren’t necessarily in a regular school,” says Joubert, citing supplemental foreign language courses as an example. “The technology they’re getting access to, the course content, the teachers. It’s nice to just sit back and be the parent again.”

Contrary to the assumption that online learning means replacing teachers with computers — or simply saving money by increasing class sizes — Joubert argues that virtual school allows students and teachers to work more closely together. “Students still talk with their teachers; you might even say they talk more. When I was in school, you didn’t have many one-on-one conversations with your teachers. Your teachers spoke to you, they didn’t speak with you. Here, they do oral exams, they talk with the kids, they really get to know each student.”

Q: Do you think your children are receiving a different education at a virtual school than when they were homeschooled?

A: I do, because of the way the courses are presented. Of course, I’m not a teacher; homeschooling parents rarely are, unless they have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in education. The way they present the lessons at FLVS and the technology and resources they provide are better than I could have offered. Both of my daughters are exceeding my expectations; they’re taking honors courses. I can offer a course, but it certainly wouldn’t be an honors course.

Q: What are the benefits of online learning for your family? Are there any drawbacks?

A: I haven’t found any challenges, really. I’ve just found a lot of great things about it. My husband was in the military, and even after we came to live permanently in Florida, he worked weekends. He only had days off at different times during the week. By having this type of learning, we are able to still have a family life. We have the ability to travel when we want to and choose our time. You can’t do that in traditional schools. Our kids have had the opportunity to go places and see things that other students don’t get to.

“It’s important to learn how to self-pace..it’s as much of a learning experience taking the course as it is learning what the course teaches.”

Also, for kids that have any type of medical problem, if they lose time out of traditional school because they get sick, they don’t have the opportunity to excel. One of my daughters has juvenile diabetes, but she’s two grades ahead already. With online learning, when you get it, you can move on. When you don’t get it, you can get extra tutoring help and teachers will walk you through it. If you’re sick for a couple of days, you can do your work over the weekend when you feel better. You’re not missing anything.

Of course, it depends on how dedicated a child is to his or her work. My kids are very self-paced because they’ve always been homeschooled, but I think if a child was not so motivated, it would be a bit of a challenge to keep up.

Q: Are your children able to work or socialize with other students at all? Do they feel isolated?

A: In all the courses they’ve taken so far, they’ve had assignments where they pair up with another student and do a project together.  It’s a good experience — they’re learning how to overcome the challenges of working with someone else and to interact with other kids. Just because you don’t “see” someone doesn’t mean you’re not interacting.

There are also plenty of online clubs at FLVS, such as the newspaper club or the science club. And online learning allows my girls more free time to interact outside of school as well, so they’re always volunteering and participating in community activities. Although it’s hard for FLVS teachers and students to get together in person because we’re located all across the state and we’re such a big state, at least once a year, we do a Barnes & Noble Book Fair where students can go to whatever Barnes & Noble is closest to where they live and meet at least some of their teachers.

Q: Could online learning be valuable for other students and families?

A: I have nieces and nephews who go to college and they are offering online courses in college. This is technology that kids will have to learn. Plus, businesses are doing it too: I recently worked for HP as a sales rep, and we were located all across the country, we didn’t have an office. I would go into businesses and train their workers and so forth and the way we had meetings and trainings was online. It’s important to learn how to self-pace and do these kinds of courses; I think it’s as much of a learning experience just taking the course as it is learning what the course teaches.

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  • Rillig

    I need to learn more about the benefits of virtual schools… There is value in having ongoing communication with a teacher.  As a public school teacher, I could communicate with my students when they take extended vacations during the school year. Online communication could potentially enhance learning during independent studies…Virtual Schools don’t have “to exist” strictly online. They certainly can promote face to face interactions and connect various learning communities…The key to this discussion is how can we work together to insure educational success, social acceptance, and personal respect for all students.

  • Pam

     Online math tutoring
    is a great option for the students, who need help in math. Since, the time has been
    changed, the way of teaching too. Nowadays students are more internet-savvy and
    so inclined to online tutoring services like tutorteddy.com. They like online
    tutors as they provide 1-to-1 tutoring to the students. Online tutoring is
    pocket-friendly too!

  • Student

    I take FLVS classes and they do have a lot of benefits but there are a lot of negative things about it too. The assignments can sometimes be ridiculous and they go way too far in promoting creativity. It is very difficult to make economics creative. Most of the assignments are essays and take hours to do. Traditional classes do not have to spend nearly as long on their assignments. I take dual enrollment courses and my college classes do not even have such long assignments. It is good for students who need extra time on tests or have social anxieties, and the freedom to work 24/7 is nice. Overall, FLVS is great but they do not to improve some things and it is definitely not a good option for students without time management skills or motivation.

    • Free2rhyme

      I agree too, sometimes the assignments are too long. But overall, virtual school is great!

  • wow

    shes kinda hot

  • Andrwejtr

    Im a student at Flvs put the assignments can get to be an 1hour and a half long its ridicuolus sometimes. but its nearlly not as much work as regular school

  • Kelly rivera

    im on flvs classes because i have back problems yea some of the assingments are long but for someone like me who sometimes is in soo much painn i cant focus they have audio and they teachers understand that sometimes the pain is to back to do work i think its great