- Education and Science
Florida Virtual School Review
Florida Virtual School is an accredited online learning institution that is open to the public and offers both high school and middle school courses. As a leader among online virtual schools, it’s been vested with many awards and is viewed as being one of the best classroom alternatives all across the United States.
As a former part-time high school student of Florida Virtual School (FLVS) who’s had to take multiple courses with them, I see a lot of people searching for first hand reviews but are unable to find many, if any even exist besides the quick one-paragraph summaries on Yahoo! Answers or some sort of business biography from an outdated online newspaper article, so I've decided to take on the job myself to provide potential future FLVS students and parents with a thorough and honest review of the high school portion of the school.
Just a Few Awards
- FLVS named as one of the country's Top 50 Innovators.
- CODiE Award for Best Virtual School.
- Gold Award for Learning Impact from the IMS Global Learning Consortium.
- named one of the Web Smart 50 top organizations by BusinessWeek magazine.
Right off the bat, Florida Virtual School has a ton of courses (over 60). While they have the basic necessity courses (English, Maths, Sciences, Social Studies, Etc.), they also offer courses that you wouldn’t expect any everyday public high school in Florida to have, let alone an online school: Forensic Science, Parenting, World Religions, Web Design, Guitar, and many others. There's definitely something for you on FLVS, especially if you're a fan of the social studies since they've got a ton of those!
The courses are chock full of information, most of it actually being useful and interesting rather than boring and tedious (though once in a while there's always the exception), and they're organized and set up well, although with a few of them, navigation is a bit tricky (namely English IV). After a few days spent getting used to everything though, finding your way through the class becomes second nature, so it's nothing to really stress over.
Just as if you were attending a regular physical school, you're required to complete and submit assignments for each course. Depending on what you're taking, there's usually 50 to 120 assignments per full class (which is divided into two semesters, allowing you to either take a course for full credit or just a half credit if need be).
Work at Your Own Pace
You can finish your course as fast as you'd like. Some students have finished a whole year's worth of a class in less than a month... some in a week!
When starting a new class, you'll call and talk to your teacher/instructor who will guide you through navigating the course if it's your first time. You'll be required to adhere to what is called a pace chart - a chart that lays out what assignments you must complete for each week you're in the course. It's actually very useful and handy, and you might be surprised to see that you'll only need to submit about 2 to 4 assignments per week (which can easily be finished in a single day to free up the rest of the week for your own leisure).
There's a big rule that you must follow while you're enrolled in any Florida Virtual School course: You must submit work weekly! If you go two weeks (14 days) or more without submitting any work, then you will be at risk for being dropped from the course. Now can you get away with not submitting work for a couple weeks and be fine? Usually, yes. I had actually gone months without submitting or contacting my teachers and was fine, but I don't recommend anyone doing that because it's very risky!
In every course you'll have a teacher, or "instructor" as they're usually called. These instructors are certified to teach and are also college graduates, so it's just like attending school, except for the small fact that you'll probably be in your boxers while actually doing work. I've had many courses, so in turn I've had even more instructors (some courses have two instructors). Luckily, most of them have been really awesome and understanding when family issues arose and I had to be away from my courses for extended periods of time. On the other hand, I've been unfortunate enough to run into a few instructors with the charm, sweetness and understanding of a block of sandpaper. For the most part though, I'd say you'll be in good hands when it comes to getting paired up with a wonderful and helpful instructor!
Overall, FLVS is a great alternative to attending public school for high school students, or even just for students looking to make up credits or possibly accelerate their graduation so that they could get a head start in the real world. As with anything though, there are pros and cons.
- Ability to do your work from home or anywhere you have an Internet connection; Great for homebodies or students who are anxious to be around large amounts of people
- You can work on your class(es) at any time of day
- You can sign up for and take your classes at any time of the year
- Ability to work at your own pace
- You can finish the course as fast as you'd like
- It's not always easy to be motivated and keep up with your work
- You don't see teachers face to face
- Not easy to make friends and just "chatting" with other students isn't allowed
- Consequences of being dropped from the course after 14 days of not submitting any assignments, or if you do not contact your teacher as often as needed
While I think that the pros definitely outweigh the cons, ultimately it's going to depend on what you and your family will think is best when it comes to deciding whether or not Florida Virtual School is for you. Hopefully this review has helped give you a better idea of what it's like, and I wish you good luck in whatever path you choose!
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