Cyber Education – What Is It?
By Dr. Heidi Gough
Director of Marketing and Communications
PA Leadership Charter School
Distant learning or correspondence courses and schools have been around since the early 1900’s. However the new buzz words are cyber, cyber school, cyber education and online learning. So what does this actually mean?
Many higher education colleges and universities offer courses or certificate based programs online, for its students. This provides a flexible option for students to attend school on their time and not have to worry about losing days off from work and sometimes these classes are more affordable than going to an actual campus. The programs can vary from just submitting correspondence to the professor, to participating in a live online class debate.
The Kindergarten through 12th grade population became a part of this education movement approximately 15 years ago. In Pennsylvania, there are fourteen (14) state approved Cyber Charter Schools serving around 42,000 students (2014-2015 school year data).
Cyber Schools follow an instructional model that’s similar to homeschooling, without the responsibility of purchasing curriculum and designing lessons. Teaching in a virtual environment is very different from teaching in a traditional classroom. Cyber education offers a flexible approach to teaching and encourages forward thinking. Teachers spend their day inspiring creativity in their students, creating fun and exciting assignments, as well as holding interactive live class sessions.
The excitement can be felt through family testimonials –
“My daughter has been doing SO much better since enrolling here at PALCS. With her issues with her 1st grade teacher and some of the ADMIN, it’s great to have my daughter smile and be so happy to learn again. Thank you so much for allowing my daughter to enroll in your school. My husband and I are so thankful, and we can’t wait for the rest of the year!” ~ Jaime P. Sharpsville, PA. (PA Leadership Charter School Family)
“Best school EVER great teachers fun classes great school trips around PA and one of the best places to make friends not just the students but the teachers too!” ~ Cody H. Pittsburgh, PA (21st Century Cyber Charter School)
Cyber schooled students are required to log attendance every day, submit assignments, attend online live lessons and complete the state mandatory testing.
Using different types of programs, Moodle, Blackboard, etc students receive their education through an electronic device and the internet. Many cyber schools offer socialization opportunities including field trips, international travel and local community gatherings.
While cyber school may not be the right fit for all families, it does afford families the safety of schooling in a home environment. Many students choose cyber school due to its flexible but structured approach to learning. Not all students learn the same, so it’s important to find a model of education that works for your family.