Virtual High School, or VHS was integrated into my highschool about two years ago. This year, I was finally eligible to take a course (I suppose freshmen just aren't worthy enough or something), and I realized that the whole concept of a virtual high school isn't just "cool" because I can sit at home naked doing my work. It's the future!!! It's what I always read about in the sci-fi stories. Quite exciting, huh?
Virtual High School-What is it?
Alright, so maybe there aren't any holographic displays or robot teachers with laser eyes to scan your homework, but all VHS interaction takes place online, set up in the form of your average message board. The student chooses from a variety of classes, basically anything available in a regular school plus quite a few slightly more interesting classes. Each class lasts a semester, and is usually worth half a credit, depending on the student's own school.
Work is generally assigned once a week, with a week usually starting on Wednesday. Just like conventional classes, each teacher has different rules, ideas and expectations concerning how the class should be run. I have been blessed by a particularly lenient teacher who accepts any late work for full credit, as long as you communicate any problems you are having with her. Considering the unreliability of my computer, this is DEFINETLY something to be grateful for.
Advantages of VHS
As mentioned before, one of the definite ups to taking a class online is the ability to do your work anywhere and anytime you have internet access. In addition to being able to participate in class discussions with no clothes on, I am able to complete my assignments at my own leisure. Since all the assignments are available at the start of the week, if you're one of those goodie-goodies
, you can finish everything the moment you sign on. Or, if you take after my attitude, you can wait until Tuesday night and work on your assignments until 11:59 pm.
VHS also offers a slightly less time-consuming method to earn those few extra credits you need to graduate, or just to make yourself look good. In my case, my school schedule is so ridiculously clogged with stupid required classes, and then band and choir because I'm a music geek, that I have no room at all to take some of "fun" classes. Also, I am expected to enroll in all honors classes so even some of the more traditional fun classes are out of bounds. VHS is a great way for me to take some lighter classes that I actually enjoy and earn easy credits.
Problems with VHS
Of course, virtual high school isn't all bright skies and cooperative computers. One of the more obvious issues is all of the inevitable techinical difficulties one is bound to have when operating a computer systems. This really needs no explanation; we all know how it is to have a computer ruin a potentially good idea. I regularly have problems accessing the website, and often times my peers and I will make posts that never make it onto the message board for one reason or another.
Another downside of VHS is simply the lack of interaction and lively discussions found in a conventional classroom. It is very easy to fake your way through all of the assignment and earn the half credit without learning anything. Some students also seem to have a very difficult time understanding concepts when there isn't an active environment to keep him or her involved.
I have found the VHS system to be very fulfilling, and I would definetly recommend it to my fellow high school students that are, for one reason or another, unsatisfied with their current curriculum. All of the negative issues mentioned will be cured as time goes on and virtual high school becomes more commonplace. Hey, maybe in a few years we'll be able to take our entire high school curriculum online!
For more information including a listing of courses, a very corny FAQ and instructions on how to get your school involved, take a visit to http://www.govhs.org/website.nsf