Future of Online Learning

Originally aired on WAFF-TV – April 26, 2021

The school year is coming to an end and it’s now time for parents to start making decisions for next year. Families across the country have been forced to adapt to the ways of online learning due to the pandemic, but some parents and students have found they prefer virtual learning.

Even if you like virtual, a lot of school districts might not offer it. The majority of parents that WAFF spoke to that would continue with virtual are those with students in middle school and younger.

“They never would have chosen virtual, unless the pandemic had happened. But Since they did, they have found it is a pretty good fit for their students,’ says Melissa Larson, Head of School at Alabama Virtual Academy.

Others say students cannot grow socially and academically in a virtual learning state.

“Our local school systems made the best choices to keep our kids safe and did what they needed to do to provide instruction. But It doesn’t replace that face-to-face in-person instruction where you can ask questions and get answers and it is peer-to-peer interaction as well,” says Tammie Dodson mother of two students.

Michelle Rocha, a mother of three is letting her children choose. She says her son that is a senior wants to be face to face, but her 9-year old is excelling online. Several other parents with younger children say the younger generation adapts better to a later wake-up time and technology.

“We are definitely looking at long-term virtual for her,” says Rocha.

Larson says that the reregistration rate is at 67% and is mostly made up of younger students.

Alabama Virtual Academy tries to combat the lack of social interaction by scheduling zoom lunches and field trips. Lason tells me that once it is safe again, they will start to schedule face-to-face events for their students..

Even if it is hard to increase social interaction, technology has allowed students to learn from anywhere and at any time. Larson says online is always there for those who need it.

“At ALVA we always say online education isn’t for everyone but they are here for anyone,” says Larson.

Larson says that in 2021 enrollment was up by 1000. In 2020, the virtual academy had 3000 students, and in 2021 they have 4000 students. She says they are on track to do the same for this next school year.

To learn more about Alabama Virtual Academy, visit alva.k12.com

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