Being Online Helps Keep Students in School
A team dedicated to addressing the matter led to the creation of the ACCESS (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide) Distance Learning Initiative. In 2006, ACCESS partnered with D2L to provide innovative online learning
to high school students throughout the state. Now, students in rural and impoverished areas have access to enriched resources—including the valuable AP courses. Discussion and Dropbox tools allow for improved student interaction, and online quizzes help ensure students are progressing. They can even fulfill most of the requirements for graduation online.
“Students are also more likely to communicate with the online teacher using the email tool than they are to ask questions in a bricks-and-mortar school because the intimidation factor between the teacher and student is not as strong,” says Raines. “That helps to increase the student-teacher communication that’s vital to success in all courses.”
He adds, “In the past, students sometimes dropped out of school to work and support their families. Using the Brightspace platform they can work at a job and do some of their course work too, so we are seeing how that is helping students continue towards graduation.”
Monitoring Students Keeps Them from Falling Behind
Before ACCESS, it was easy for high school students to drop off the radar, especially in areas without enough faculty support. The Brightspace platform enables educators to pull students back in when they fall behind.
“D2L helped us create a report that allows us to monitor student activity,” says Raines. “We are dealing with more than 27,000 students taking courses, the majority of whom are scheduled to go to their high school computer lab or video conferencing lab sometime during the day. The report allows us to monitor students statewide so we know who has not been participating for more than a week.”
Extending the Reach of Great Teachers
Through the program, all high school students in the state now have equal access to courses—and great teachers. Videoconferencing allows teachers to inspire and motivate students in rural and impoverished areas. Since the teacher can’t be onsite, local schools employ facilitators who monitor students, help with technical issues and provide assistance to the teacher.