Online courses are now part of seven high school Career and Technical Education programs at Polytech to meet the needs of ‘digital-aged’ students and better prepare them for the future. We integrated this new teaching tool, offered in 90% of the colleges in the US, because distance learning has many advantages for Polytech programs and its students.
In 2009, the NJ Department of Education noted that one of the essential elements for transforming NJ High Schools was integrating technology in all content areas including virtual (online courses). Further support is found at the Federal level with 2009 US Department of Education research revealing that “students who took all or part of their class work online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional instruction.”
Online courses not only give students the ability to work at their own pace anytime or anywhere, but they also provide an opportunity to learn beyond the classroom and earn advanced credentials.
For example, our nursing students took the Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) online course which is a “must know” for anyone entering the healthcare field. Culinary students received certification and college credits through a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) class. Through this experience we hope our students consider online learning opportunities when they continue their education after high school.
Baking and Pastry, PreVeterinary Science, Early Childhood Education, Cooperative Education and Health Sciences programs also included online coursework in the programs this year.
Polytech is considering offering students online courses and structured internships next year with a facilitator, because high school students may be looking for specific training/knowledge in program areas like Zoology or Video gaming – classes not offered at Polytech or the other high schools.
Because more planning is needed to assess the need and value of programs like this, the effectiveness of this new instructional tool is being measured through surveys, interviews and successful passing rates of participating staff and students. But we are very excited about how quickly and enthusiastically this program has been embraced by our Polytech students and staff, and we are looking forward to further applications in the future.