ASU Prep Digital Middle Schoolers Walk for a Cause–Arizona Visionwalk

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On April 24th, ASU Prep Digital middle schoolers involved in the National Junior Honor Society program participated in the 2021 Arizona Visionwalk. The 5k event inspires students to walk for a cause, banding together to show their commitment to the Foundation Fighting Blindness‘ mission: to find treatments and cures for blinding retinal diseases.

Pictured: Bonding with Guide dog Nebraska, ASU team Hooligrants (Robb and Sarah Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Chavez, Madelyn Chavez, Haylee Reed, Mrs. Reed and sister. Grant Williams and Guide Dog Nebraska), Hailey Reed being presented with a braille coaster for her fundraising efforts.

 

On Saturday morning, “The Hooligrants” Team, made up of ten members including guide dog, Nebraska, donned matching t-shirts and began their walk. In total, the team raised about $350 for the foundation. Team member Haylee Reed, raised the most money for the Foundation Fighting Blindness $285 and received a braille ASU coaster for her fundraising efforts.

Thanks to all of the students (and dogs) who participated in the 2021 Visionwalk! We are looking forward to next year’s fundraising event! Interested in participating next year? Visit the Visionwalk website to join a team!

Frequently Asked Questions about Online Learning

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If you’re new to online learning this year, or considering it as an option for your student next semester, chances are you have quite a few questions. Whether you’re wondering what the expectations are for family involvement or curious about how socialization works, we’ve got you covered. Here is a list of answers to frequently asked questions about online learning:

Are the courses 100% online?

Yes! One of the major benefits of online learning is that students have the freedom to complete their assignments anywhere, at any time, and at their own pace.

Can students participate in extracurricular activities?

Absolutely! Just like traditional schools, online schools, offer a variety of clubs and activities for students. In fact, students are encouraged to submit additional club ideas that match their interests.

What are the expectations for family involvement?

At ASU Prep Digital, it’s common (and encouraged!) for families to take an active role in their student’s education. For younger grades like K-8, this may mean a more hands-on approach and daily check-ins, especially if your student is new to online learning. For students in grades 9-12, this may mean giving them more freedom and checking in on a weekly basis.

How is online learning different from traditional schooling?

The major difference between online learning and traditional schooling is flexibility. In a traditional school setting, students learn at the same pace as their peers and follow a set schedule for their courses. Online learning allows students to not only complete coursework on their own time, but also work at a pace that best suits their needs. Whether this means working ahead to complete a class early or spending a little extra time on a topic, students have the freedom to make that choice for themselves!

 

Have more questions? Check out a full list of FAQs on our website and additional posts about frequently asked questions about online learning:

Universities Report Online K-12 Enrollment Boost

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* This was originally written by Lindsay McKenzie and published on Inside Higher Ed 

Dissatisfied with the way local schools are responding to the pandemic, families increasingly turn to online K-12 options to educate their children — including schools run by universities.

Interest in online K-12 schools is surging in response to the educational disruption prompted by COVID-19.

At K12, the nation’s largest online charter school operator, enrollment increased from 123,000 to 170,000 students this year, according to reporting by Chalkbeat. At Connections Academy, another large online charter school company, applications have reportedly increased by 61 percent.

A similar picture is emerging in a more niche corner of the K-12 market — online schools run by universities.

At Arizona State University Prep Digital, an online public charter school run by the Tempe, Ariz.-based public university, student enrollment has grown by almost 700 percent — from 600 full-time students in 2019 to around 4,500 students this year.

This growth is partially explained by the fact that ASU Prep Digital welcomed its first classes of kindergartners through eighth graders this August — adding to the existing grades 9 to 12 launched in 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic nonetheless played a major role in driving interest in the school and is continuing to drive new inquiries from families in the state of Arizona and nationally.

“We are definitely hearing from families that the pandemic is a catalyst for our growth,” said Julie Young, chief executive officer at ASU Prep Digital. “Families went through a rocky spring. They are looking for stability.”

In the spring semester, many traditional K-12 schools switched to remote instruction without equipping teachers with the right training or tools, Young said. Since ASU Prep Digital was conceived as a fully online institution, some parents feel the school is “a less risky option” than waiting to see how the fall semester at their local school pans out.

While ASU Prep Digital is drawing students from schools that are grappling with the impact of the pandemic, its leaders are eager to share its online learning expertise with other institutions, Young said. ASU Prep Digital is actively providing training in online teaching and learning to public school teachers in Arizona and elsewhere.

The Arizona Virtual Teaching Institute, an initiative of ASU Prep Digital, provides free training to teachers with financial support from the Arizona Department of Education, the state’s governor’s office, Helios Education Foundation and ASU. The institute has so far helped 3,200 of the state’s 48,000 teachers prepare to offer remote or hybrid instruction, said Amy McGrath, chief operating officer at ASU Prep Digital.

By helping neighboring schools offer better online teaching and learning, including licensing content and offering remote instruction to schools where there are teacher shortages, ASU Prep Digital is helping to raise the profile of online education, McGrath said. Online K-12 has some bad actors with poor student outcomes, but high-tech, high-touch personalized learning is “something that should be an option for every student,” she said.

The rapid expansion of ASU Prep Digital — including both the launch of K-8 and additional students due to the pandemic — required “significant investment in staffing and infrastructure up front,” McGrath said.

“As a result, financial year 2021 surpluses will lag the first year of this expansion, but it will create opportunities to reinvest future surpluses to maintain growth trajectories,” McGrath said.

Part of the allure of studying at ASU Prep Digital for older students and families with ties to ASU is that students have access to college-level classes through concurrent enrollment at both the school and the university. That gives them the opportunity to test out so-called career pathways, earn credit and ultimately save money on college tuition, Young said.

 

 

3 Tips for Transitioning to Online Learning

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With the fall semester underway, many families across the country have chosen to keep their children home and enroll them in online programs, like ASU Prep Digital. If your child has never taken an online course, that’s okay! To ease your worries, we’ve rounded up several tips for transitioning to online learning:

Set a schedule and check in often

One of the major differences between online learning and brick-and-mortar is that students have the freedom to work at their own pace. While this is great for students who want to work ahead or even take a little more time with certain subjects, it can also take some getting used to. Help your child put together a schedule that allows them to work on assignments in a timely fashion without feeling overwhelmed. And during the first few weeks of their first semester, it’s recommended that you check in nightly to ensure they’re staying on track.

Encourage your child to engage in extracurricular activities 

Transitions are easier when you have friends by your side! Online schools offer clubs just like brick-and-mortar schools do, which makes it easier for students to find something they’re passionate about and meet people who share the same interests. From book club to student government and everything in between, there’s no shortage of activities that will help your child break out of their shell and begin to develop connections with their peers.

Understand there will be a transitional period 

The same way it takes time to transition from each grade level, your child will need time to adjust from a physical learning environment to an online learning environmentand that’s okay! The most important thing they’ll need during this time is support. Luckily, there’s no shortage of that at ASU Prep Digital. Students will communicate with their teachers and Learning Success Coach on a regular basis, ensuring they’re staying on track to be successful in and out of the virtual classroom.

 

Looking for more insight on transitioning to online learning? Check out these posts: