I am finishing the second year of CyberSchool (CS) at my school. I am very happy with how it is going. CS is a drop out preventative program. CS is a initiation for new students. CS provides students a way to earn partial credits. CS helps students graduate sooner. CS is an innovative way to solve unique academic problems that don't fit into the normal operating procedures of a school. CS is anytime, anything learning in the school.
Our school is a transfer school. That means we get new students on a daily basis right up to the end of school. They may be returning from having dropped out earlier. They come to our school if they can't stay in other schools. Our students may have just been released from jail or coming back after giving birth. Many of our students don't even live at home with their parents or have parents in their lives either because they are dead, in jail, or in another country. We are a last chance school for our students. The one thing all of our students have in common is that they know this is their last chance, so they make the best of it.
This is the safest school I have been in. We never have fights. It is the cleanest school I have ever been in. The staff is phenomenal, the leadership is superb, and the students are wonderful. CyberSchool is necessary because these students come to us with some credit and need partial credit to complete their transcript. They are the square peg trying to be fit in the round holes of the school system.
CyberSchool adjusts the peg and the hole so that we achieve success and satisfy the needs of both the school system and of the student. CS serves those students who join our school after a cycle has begun. We have four cycles a year. Rather than put a student into a class mid cycle and cause academic problems, that new student takes CS till the cycle ends and picks up credit in courses where credit is needed. Other students use CyberSchool to complete credits if they don't have classes or after school. There are always students in my class completing some work for credit.
The work they do is all on the Internet. I have found webquests and use The New York Times Learning Network for lessons. I also use much of my CyberEnglish as well. Students spend their time working on projects. I interact with them often and guide them, answer questions, ask questions, and support their efforts. I find they are responsible, stay on task, don't need to be monitored, and do superb work. I have always believed and seen in my classes that when students are engaged and have some choice in the projects they do, they learn and they enjoy the process. Today, one young lady decided she wanted to do a webquest on mythology because she didn't know much about it. After a morning of reading and writing about myths, she was excited to share her new knowledge withs some classmates. As I watched I knew this was what education was all about.
CyberSchool is a good bridge program for schools that want to investigate how technology can benefit the scholars, meet their needs, and help solve some of those tricky problems all schools encounter when it comes to credit and transitional practices for new students. CyberSchool does require a tech savvy teacher or two to administer it. A comfortable knowledge of computers, both PC and Mac is a help, knowledge of online sources for webquests, online lessons, and their creation is important. Being versed enough in other disciplines is also helpful as students will need credit in all of the disciplines. I call myself a Cybrarian because I oversee all things cyber in my school and classroom, just as the librarian oversees all book things in the school and in hir library. I have finally found my niche in education after searching since I began teaching in 1974.
CyberSchool graphic courtesy of http://www.cyberschool.k12.or.us/ and http://urban.csuohio.edu/%7Esanda/teach.htm