CK-12 Aids in Competency-Based Virtual School
Guest blogger, Michele Eaton is the Virtual Education Specialist for the MSD of Wayne Township in Indianapolis, Indiana. She focuses on staff and curriculum development for the district's virtual school and blended initiatives. Michele is on the board of the Indiana Computer Educators organization, on the leadership team for the ISTE SIGOL group, and a CK-12 Champion. Follow her on Twitter @lyonmi and on her blog.
Achieve Virtual Education Academy is a public virtual high school in Indianapolis, Indiana. Achieve Virtual is a full time high school for several students and is the source of supplementary coursework for students around the state that need to recover credits or need access to classes not offered in their district such as AP or dual credit courses. Virtual schools provide an alternate pathway to success for many students.
One thing that makes Achieve Virtual unique, aside from it’s fully virtual nature, is that all of the digital coursework is created by Indiana teachers. We do not purchase our curriculum and we do not follow or use a textbook for any of our courses. This allows us to provide truly personalized education for all of our learners. Tools like CK-12’s Flexbooks allow our students to access academic text without being tied down to an expensive textbook. Our teachers can create and edit their own Flexbooks to meet the needs of their specific courses. The multimodalities of content that CK-12 offers allow our students to learn using a diverse range of media, reaching all types of learners.
Virtual school is different from a traditional model of school in that it can be competency-based. At Achieve Virtual, we allow our students to work until mastery at their own pace. Our students are not bound to the hours or bell schedule of a traditional school. Learning happens anywhere and at any time. The length of a lesson is based on competency and mastery, not on a specific number of hours or days.
If a student in our school understands a specific topic or has mastered a skill, they can move on to the next lesson quickly. However, if a student is struggling with a particular subject, they can slow down and take the time they need to be successful. In a virtual school program like this, students don’t experience the boredom of sitting through a lesson on a topic in which they are already proficient. They also don’t have the stress of moving on to the next lesson before they are ready.
There are several tools available online that allow our teachers to provide additional assistance to students who need more time and practice with a particular topic. Our math and science teachers especially love Braingenie which provides lessons and interactive content in a game-like environment. The students can get supplementary instruction on concepts while enjoying the engaging challenges available with other students around the world. The new dashboard at CK-12 also allows the students to keep track of their own understanding of certain skills, taking ownership of their learning. This is an extremely powerful practice that can make learning meaningful for students.
At Achieve Virtual, we are rethinking what school looks like for students. We are excited and fortunate to have tools like these available to us that allow for a personalized, unique experience for our learners.
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