Pandemic brings increased demand for online learning, could it be here to stay?

Originally aired on KCRG-TV – January 22, 2021

Iowa’s first online school says its enrollment exploded during the Pandemic, could it be a sign online learning is here to stay? As schools across the state navigate virtual learning during the pandemic, Iowa Virtual Academy has been doing it for 9 years. Now, other districts are learning there can be benefits to having an online option.

When the Pandemic hit, no school in Iowa was better prepared than Iowa Virtual Academy.

“Nobody really prepares you, at least not back then prepared anybody to be a virtual school teacher. So the difference is 95% of the people that probably come into the virtual world have 0 online teaching experience,” says Steven Hoff, Head of Schools at Iowa Virtual Academy.

Hoff believes that experience is why their enrollment doubled to around 900 students as parents looked for remote schooling options amid the Pandemic.

For other districts, like Iowa City, the shift has been an adjustment.

“We were pretty overwhelmed by the number of students that wanted to be 100% online,” says Gregg Shoultz, Director of Online Learning for the Iowa City Community School District.

That demand is leading them to keep the option permanently moving forward as the district sees benefits even after COVID-19.

“The good news online is that we keep getting bigger, we don’t have to build new buildings. So we don’t anticipate we’re going to hit a cap,” Shoultz told us.

Students from across the state can start open enrolling at ICCSD Online by February 1st.

Virtual schooling requires adaptability, even for the veterans.

“There are things that a family might need to do to be successful in our world. You know establish that routine, you know online school provides a flexible schedule but having something defined is very helpful,” says Hoff.

Iowa City Schools have seen students thrive in the virtual atmosphere, through they say it’s not for everyone.

“There has been some, a big learning curve about you know really getting to the understanding that I do have to work on my own I have to be a self starter on those days that classes don’t meet and use that time constructively,” Shoultz says.

In addition to time management, we’re told a dedicated work space can go a long way.

“We’ve seen families and students you know try to do schooling from their bed and just a simple, just a simple hey why don’t you get them a desk for their bedroom, you see so much of a shift,” Hoff says.

Whether you’re new to the idea or it’s no novelty, we’re sure to see more virtual learning moving forward.

To learn more about Iowa Virtual Academy, visit iava.k12.com

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