Atlanta Virtual Academy: Register now for Spring 2014

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Spring registration has begun for the Atlanta Virtual Academy (AVA) at Atlanta Public Schools.  Registration for the spring semester is open from November 18-January 17.  Classes for the spring semester are scheduled to begin on Monday, January 27, 2014 and end on Friday, May 9, 2014

Over 250 students registered for Atlanta Virtual Academy for the fall semester that runs through December 9th.

According to Doryiane Gunter, APS Program Manager for Distance Education, the program’s enrollment increased more than excepted. AVA increased its math course offerings for the fall to include Math III and Coordinate Algebra. The program also included World History.  In addition to adding these courses, AVA is currently running a middle school pilot with 7th and 8th grade Health and PE.

“We are looking forward to seeing the program continue to grow and meet the needs of our students,” Ms. Gunter, said. “One of the great things about virtual learning opportunities is the flexibility that the program provides to meet a variety of needs.  Using AVA, we are able to meet credit recovery and course acceleration needs.”

Through AVA, students from high schools throughout the district can earn credit online by taking virtual classes in addition to their regular schedule.  While the coursework is primarily online, AVA courses are similar to traditional face-to-face classes. Students complete lesson activities, homework, engage in class discussions, and take tests. Teachers are available to students throughout the entire length of the course and are available to talk to students or parents via email or telephone. The Virtual Academy Program Manager and teacher maintain contact with someone at the student’s school and/or a parent to provide updates on progress and discuss appropriate support and encouragement if a student appears to be falling behind. Course instructors also have required office hours. During this time they are available to assist students and address any questions or concerns.

Students are required to login daily for an average of 20-24 hours each week. Fall and spring session students should spend 12-15 hours per week in the course. This requires that students have access to a working computer and an internet connection. If courses are taken during the school day at school, the school will provide a lab and a computer. If courses are taken outside of the school day in addition to the regular schedule, the student is responsible for their own technology.

Additionally, AVA students are using blackboard as the learning management system for AVA courses. APS selected Blackboard Learn as its first district-wide learning management system this summer  after a nine-month evaluation of leading commercial and open-source platforms. The district uses Blackboard Learn to rapidly expand online classes offered to students and to align all class content with Common Core standards. District leaders found Blackboard Learn to be the best option for expanding the offerings for the Virtual Academy. Students are also able to use the Blackboard Mobile App at no cost to access and work in their courses.

All enrolled students must attend a mandatory Atlanta Virtual Academy Orientation. AVA Orientation will be held January 22, 2014 from 6pm-7:30pm, location to be determined.

“The biggest addition for the spring semester is the face-to-face orientation that we’re requiring all registered students to attend,” Gunter explained.  “We’re providing students and parents with an opportunity to meet the AVA staff and spend time with their teachers from the start. It is our belief that this will kick-off a great start for students enrolled for the spring.”

AVA is excited about improving the look and feel of its courses this spring.  Each student will complete a satisfaction survey at the end of the semester and district leaders have also worked to correct any technical issues that students may have encountered, improving course delivery.

All students are required to get approval from their school counselor prior to registering for spring courses. For more information or to register for the spring semester visit www.atlantapublicschools.us/ava

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