College of Education to offer a new virtual school

The school should be ready sometime this year.

The College of Education plans to launch a new virtual school for kindergarten through 12th grade students later this year.

Although the full development of the project could take a few years, Missouri school districts with students in these grades will eventually be able to enroll them in online classes that they would otherwise not be able to take.

“There is a need in Missouri for accessible, high quality online courses for students,” Director Monica Beglau said. “It’s becoming a more popular option.”

Beglau said students might wish to take online courses through the virtual school for many reasons. For example, students might want to enroll if a required course is not offered in the school district, a student needs to recover credit in a failed course or if special needs present an obstacle in a traditional classroom setting.

The College of Education also plans to offer Advanced Placement courses for high school students who wish to receive college credit.

“We want students to become prepared to take the Advanced Placement test,” Beglau said.

Because of the high demand for online courses, the College of Education wants the virtual school to be available to every student.

“We hope (the courses) are very affordable,” Beglau said. “Perhaps school districts can (help to) pay as well.”

Although coursework through the virtual school will only be available to K-12 students, future teachers at MU will eventually have an opportunity to use the program as a learning tool. Because online courses are becoming more popular among students, it is essential for education majors to learn how to teach through online classrooms.

Beglau said the program will help prepare MU's future teachers to not only work in a traditional school classroom, but also an online environment. The virtual school would provide a great opportunity for students to learn to teach.

“(The virtual school) will give the College of Education a place to train future teachers,” Beglau said. “But it is not yet a part of teacher certification courses.”

Many MU students have considered taking online courses. Online courses usually allow students to work at their own pace for a reasonable price.

“My high school did not offer classes online,” freshman Garrett Hager said. “I probably would not (have taken them) unless I could take them all. I had no interest in graduating early. If I did, cost would be a big factor.”

Freshman Laura Brunette would have liked to take online classes, but her high school did not offer them.

“My schedule was full,” she said. “I didn’t have time to do anything other than the basics.”

Brunette, a music education major, sees the benefit of learning how to teach with online classes.

“Maybe you couldn’t be in class at a certain time,” she said. “So online would make it easier. You could also get the required classes out of the way, and take something you want.”

Beglau said the virtual school is a great opportunity for both university and high school students.

“I think it’s really exciting that the College of Education is moving into the digital and online environment for students,” she said. “It offers an opportunity for those who want to become teachers to get that experience.”

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