Fairfax high school considers going virtual

Fairfax high school considers going virtual

Summary: A U.S. school is considering a move to fully virtual learning.


In Washington, Fairfax County could become the first to offer a completely virtual alternative to high school -- rather than catching the bus, students would commute only to their laptops, the Washington Post reports.

Forget sports teams and clubs -- unless they are on a forum. No lockers, no detention. Instead, your classes are constructed online, schedules and assignments based on student convenience.

The proposed virtual school will be discussed at a hearing this month. School board members are excited about the prospect, although questions concerning the cost, operations and attendance levels remain unanswered.

Superintendent Jack D. Dale said he does not believe many students would attend the digital school full-time, but rather see it as an educational option. If the proposal is approved, then the school would be open to students county-wide.

Aimed to launch in September, the sheer amount of logistics involved means this is probably over-ambitious, but the school board's officials are keen to launch 'before someone else does'. Dale says:

"It's hard to do marching band online. Kids are going to pop in and out of the virtual school. They'll just look at it as another method of taking a course, instead of face to face."

In the virtual school teachers would work via phone and email, and occasional meetings would be conducted in time for revision and exams. Students and teachers would meet through an online platform approximately one-fifth of the time, and outside of this, students would have the freedom to organize their learning themselves.

The proposed movement towards virtual learning methods arrives on the coattails of public Virginia Virtual Academy, where many younger students have begun attending. It currently enrolls approximately 500 students. 250,000 students are currently enrolled in full-time virtual schools in 30 states.

Fairfax currently offers about 50 online courses as learning options, but this figure is marginal in comparison to what a full syllabus would require. Not only this, the school officials need to explore how to offer special education services and Internet-connected computers to those without household devices.

Would students opt for the virtual school? Perhaps -- especially those that need flexibility, such as athletes or those with diabilities. However, for an average student, by taking away the social aspect of schooling it may impede the development of required social skills.

(via Washington Post)

Image credit: Philippe Put


Topics: Enterprise Software, CXO, Software, IT Employment

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • High School Going Virtual

    I think there is something to be said about being in a classroom where you can feed off your fellow students and interact directly with the instructor. I think this is way too impersonal for students of this age where they lack the discipline to stay on task without that extra push to get up and actually go to school.

    Also what are they going to do for classes that require lab time. Provide the equipment to do Science labs and Art labs at home?

    What about Students that have parents that work full time? Leave the student at home by themselves and expect them to just to do their work?

    There are many other questions I would like to see addressed to. Working in a High School environment for many years I am not hopeful for this type of learning. It has not even been wildly successful on the college level yet where students are usually more mature and disciplined to be motivated to get their work done.
  • I assume...

    ...this is the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools you're talking about. Washington, D.C. is across the Potomac River and the State of Washington is on the other side of the country.
    John L. Ries
  • Uh oh

    So we're going to turn out a generation of kids that hack their tests and have no social skills or ability to act as a group or team just because some lazy educators want to record their lectures and sleep in?
  • this is already in place in many states

    Many states already have virtual charter schools which use curriculums like k12.com. This is probably an attempt by a school district to prevent funding being diverted from the school district to the cyber charter school.