DOD initiative uses VTC to fill gaps in education for military brats
If you grew up with parents in the military, or if you had friends who did, then you know that it can be pretty tough. “Military Brats,” as they affectionately refer to themselves, are often forced to move frequently to wherever the parents are stationed.
Moves could come in the middle of a school year, be overseas in a foreign country or just across the country. Regardless, the students are forced to leave their friends and studies behind and begin the process of getting settled in new schools, meeting new friends and pretty much starting over every time.
What’s worse, sometimes these stations aren’t in a place geographically located near an existing Department of Defense (DOD) school. This leaves students with very few educational options. Other times, students may not have access to courses that they need to graduate at the public schools that are available, like US History and others.
To help make this process a bit easier on military students, the DOD has built a new school. The fascinating thing about this school is that it has no walls. It can also go with students to Alabama, Japan, Germany, California or anywhere else they find themselves.
The DOD Education Activity’s virtual high school is an accredited distance learning program for military students. Students can attend whether they’re geographically separated from their DOD school, transitioning between schools or have a schedule conflict.
The school offers 48 online courses, including foreign language, math, science, social studies, language arts, physical education, advanced placement courses and even English as a second language and special education. Priority is to fill the educational gaps left by distance, moving or differing curriculum requirements.
Students receive support from teachers located in three hubs: Wiesbaden, Germany; Camp Humphries, South Korea; and Arlington, Va. These teachers provide support to students across the globe via Web conferencing, data sharing and question-and-answer sessions. The use of video teleconferencing (VTC) ensures that students receive the face-to-face classroom experience despite not being in a physical school.
Although the school is currently only a supplement to a student’s ongoing education, there are plans to expand it to much more in the future. The program will potentially expand to include elementary and middle school students soon, and is also looking at becoming a degree-granting institution, which would require the offering of many additional courses.
By embracing VTC to bring education outside of the classroom, the DOD is making life easier on military students while ensuring they receive the education needed for their future success and career. Now that’s a new way of teaching.