States Offering Diplomas to Online Students

Vote Below: Is Virtual High School a good idea?

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MNVHS logoI happen to be traveling right now in Minnesota, shooting for a TV show. I’m so tuned in to anything relating to advances in technology, but this example of the Tech Explosion really caught my attention. As soon as I got into my rented minivan at the airport, I heard a radio ad for a complete, comprehensive program of instruction offered by the State of Minnesota. This ad was geared towards high school students, who for whatever reason, are not inclined to stay in high school and graduate with a diploma.

So, of course, a quick Google search lead me to a YouTube-posted commercial for the Minnesota Virtual High School.


Minnesota Virtual High School Commercial:

Video courtesy: mnvirtualhs


This whole idea struck me immediately as a “pure genius” way to use technology to make a difference. Let’s face it, not every kid is cut out to make it through their high school years. Maybe they just can’t fit in, maybe their high school has a bullying problem, or maybe the kid needs to work and help support his or her family. There are obviously lots of reasons that kids drop out. The ramifications of that decision are huge. So the fact that the State of Minnesota is proactively helping kids in these situations is amazing. Of course, it’s only possible to do this through the internet and the Tech Explosion.

dosomeA post at dosomething.org lists facts about high school dropouts, including the fact that each year in the United States alone, over 1.2 million kids drop out of high school. The site goes on to make the point that those figures add up to 7,000 students per day, or one every 26 seconds. That sounds like a crisis to me! The fact is, that the dropout rate has actually dropped in many states, but there’s certainly still room for improvement.

Some additional crazy statistics are that high school dropouts commit 75% of all crimes, and the fact that high school dropouts will earn, on average, $1 million dollars less than a college graduate over their lifetime.

If you look at Minnesota’s site, you’ll see that it is very inviting and professionally done. The site is written and presented in a way that gives kids a feeling like they are in charge. The site clearly states that kids can learn at their own pace, going online any time of the day or night. This is truly an amazing program. The online resources are fully funded by taxpayer dollars, including full instruction and even 1 to 1 teacher student instruction time. Minnesota has realized that the investment in this program will pay off by having kids move forward with their educations and hopefully even advance to college.

MNVHMinnesota’s program is administered through an accredited charter school that issues a genuine high school diploma, once a student has met all of the requirements. Students even get to attend a graduation at the physical school if they wish. This no GED program. It is an official diploma recognized by any college or business that a graduate might want to move forward with.

A quick Google search will show you that quite a few states are beginning to offer this same type of program to its high school students. That’s what intrigues me most about the Tech Explosion; the fact that technology can bring us both fantastic things and not-so-great things at the same time. So, as some people are addicted to their smartphones and using Facebook, a wonderful new use like online high school education exists as well. This is technology that can truly change lives.

Online education has been around for quite some time, but the comprehensive and professional nature of these high school programs is very impressive. However, quite a few high school principals may have a different opinion about the viability of a high school education completed online. We wondered how many high school principals would be in favor of a virtual online education as a last resort for some students. There’s a fine line between offering these programs to students and attempting to solve problems within schools. If virtual programs are advertised as a great option to students, what happens if students then leave their high schools in great numbers? There’s a possibility that these programs will leave schools with many fewer enrolled students, which could have a cascading effect. Students may see this trend as a “cool” way to finish school, leaving school buildings more and more empty.

With or without a virtual education option, let’s hope that the dropout rate continues to drop!

high school dropout

What do you think? Please weigh in with your opinion. Are virtual schools a good idea?

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