Virtual school engages students in real-world learning through online CTE classes


Virtual school engages students in real-world learning through online CTE classes

Metro Nashville Public Schools Virtual School, Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville-740x740-1Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) Virtual School strives to provide an individualized, dynamic, and empowering virtual learning experience while developing graduates who are college-, career-, and community-ready.

To that end, James V. Witty, executive principal, decided to introduce a Business and Marketing Academy in 2013 to give students exposure to future career opportunities. But when the staff looked for an online curriculum to support the career academy, “one of the things that we encountered,” Witty said, “was that for a lot of the career and technical education (CTE) courses that we needed for our business academy, there just weren’t a lot of options out there.”

Witty heard about Connections Learning®, a set of online courses and services now part of the Pearson Connexus suite of offerings, through MNPS’s partnership with Pearson. Connections Learning’s portfolio of business management, CTE, and technology courses offered the variety and depth of content that he sought for the career academy. Connections Learning also offered an impressive array of Advanced Placement (AP®) course options, so the virtual school decided to pilot twelve of its CTE and AP courses.

During the 2014–2015 academic year, the Connections Learning courses accounted for 13 percent of the school’s seats served. The most popular Connections Learning courses were Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Marketing, AP Psychology, and AP English Language and Composition.

Witty was impressed with how the CTE courses integrate real-world, project-based learning into the curriculum. In the entrepreneurship course, for example, students apply the concepts that they learn by creating a business plan.

I’ve been impressed with the integration of real-world and project-based learning into the design of the Connections courses.

James V. Witty, Executive Principal

Scott Merrick, virtualization engineer, was pleased with the rigor of the curriculum. “One of the things we had to overcome as an early virtual school was the notion that it’s easier than going to school every day,” he explained. But students and parents have told him that the Connections Learning courses are challenging and good preparation for college.

One 10th-grade student remarked, “The courses were structured very well, and I liked that they provided a calendar with due dates on it. They were very informative and were easy to navigate. I feel like I learned a lot from them that will help me prepare for college.”

I always hear from our v-teachers and from parents that the challenge that all of these courses offer is really good preparation for the college experience.

Scott Merrick, Virtualization Engineer

MNPS Virtual School plans to continue using Connections Learning in 2015–2016, extending its course offerings to include Business Information Technology, AP English Literature and Composition, and Japanese. Expanding, the school will include lower grades and will use Connections Learning for its 5th-grade courses. The virtual school will also pilot using Connections Learning virtual teachers rather than district teachers for select classes.

To learn more about MNPS Virtual School’s CTE program, read the full success story.

Read the full success story

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