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Talk to give insight into online courses

In this March 11, 2014 photo, Lexi Hough, 14, works through a math problem with her iPad at the ready in her eighth grade algebra class at The St. Michael School of Clayton in Clayton, Mo. At the school in suburban St. Louis, students are learning how to manage their digital reputations, why retailers rely on facial recognition software and other legal and ethical issues raised by spending hours each day online or texting with friends. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
In this March 11, 2014 photo, Lexi Hough, 14, works through a math problem with her iPad at the ready in her eighth grade algebra class at The St. Michael School of Clayton in Clayton, Mo. At the school in suburban St. Louis, students are learning how to manage their digital reputations, why retailers rely on facial recognition software and other legal and ethical issues raised by spending hours each day online or texting with friends. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Parents of students who are thinking about taking online courses offered by a multi-district consortium can learn about what is available at an informational meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, at Indian Prairie School District 204’s Crouse Education Center, 780 Shoreline Drive in Aurora.

Indian Prairie teamed up with Naperville School District 203 and Wheaton-Warrenville District 200 to bring online high school courses starting in the 2014-15 school year.

Being called Extended Learning Opportunities, the courses will be based on the rigorous Common Core State Standards and be taught by specially trained teachers from member districts.

Online courses will be open exclusively to high school students who attend the three districts as well as home-school students who live within the districts’ boundaries.

The school year for online classes will run Aug. 6 to Dec. 19 for the fall semester and Jan. 20, 2015, to May 19, 2015, for the spring semester.

Courses that will be offered for one semester include government, consumer economics, health and Web design. The year-long courses are English, geometry, Chinese 1 and U.S. history.

Only a limited number of spots will be available the first year as the program gets off the ground.

The number of students allowed in each course per school district is dependent on the size of the district student population. Because Indian Prairie is nearly twice the size of the other districts in the consortium, nearly twice as many seats will be available to Indian Prairie students.

For example, the year-long courses will have 27 open seats in class, with 13 available to Indian Prairie students and seven each available to students in Districts 203 and 200.

The consortium expects to expand the number of sections of existing courses and the type of courses offered.

Students who think the online courses will be a cakewalk might want to think before leaping. The courses will be teacher-directed, not self-paced, so students will not be able to go on a power study binge and complete all of the work in one week for the whole term.

Organizers advise that the total time in the courses between class time and homework will not be less than the traditional face-to-face courses. Daily or weekly homework is required, depending on the course.

Because of the rigors of online classes, the courses are not geared toward credit recovery or students who have previously failed the same course in a face-to-face classroom. During the 2014-15 school year, District 204 students will only be allowed to register for one full-year course or two semester courses. Additional courses may be allowed for students on a case-by-case basis.

Also at this time, member districts individually decided not to allow the courses to be taken as an overload, though consideration will be taken into account later as the consortium expands.

Any student who takes an online course will reduce the number of courses taken in the building, which means the student can have time for study hall or another option period.

Parents will be able to track their students’ progress through the same means as the students’ other classes, though more detailed course information will be available through the online learning management system. Final grades will be posted as usual.

Students who do not have computer and Internet access at home will not be turned away. Each district will address the issue on a case-by-case basis. Consortium leaders have said access to technology should not limit a student’s ability to succeed in an online course. Not every student may be ready to take online courses. To help parents assess their child’s readiness, the consortium suggests parents fill out the questionnaire at this link: http://goo.gl/0B2Ah3.

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