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Online Classrooms Coming To Duluth Schools?

Updated: 02/14/2014 10:45 PM
Created: 02/14/2014 3:53 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Completely online high schools have cropped up in the Twin Cities, but Duluth students could be the first in the Northland to log in for attendance. The Duluth district is seeking state approval for an online program

Forget buses, books, and school bells. Teachers at Duluth's Area Learning Center are booting up an online classroom.

“I think it's exciting to be looking at this through a lens of okay how can we make this as much like a classroom as possible? How can we we get collaboration and choice and students really excited about learning?” Phil Thouin said.

Science teacher Phil Thouin is working on the concept of a digital class. He said computer applications can become a space for students to create, interact, and learn.

“Online applications that kind of create a sandbox where multiple users can be working in the same space, interacting, chatting,” Thouin said. “We're thinking about them maybe creating their own Youtube videos or animations.”

He said students won't just be surfing the web. Teachers will have the power of pixel pedagogy through recorded video or live-streaming chats.

“Make no mistake, the key component here is the teacher. It's going to come down to how well the teacher is able to use this tool and use this venue,” Chris Vold said.

Teacher Chris Vold is part of the team establishing the online school. He said any Duluth student could work full-time toward a diploma online. However, Vold said it would really help students who struggle to attend class.

“You have students that perhaps the family's struggling, and they have to have a job and they have to work to help support and pay bills. We've got teen parents; students that are missing school because of pregnancy,” Vold said.

He said the online program is being developed for students in the Duluth district, but once approved kids could commute online from anywhere in the state.

Soon the Duluth classrooms could convert into the online age. The district continues the state approval process, and officials hope to have some online offerings ready by fall of 2014.

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