Imagine you are back in high school. Imagine a program that allows you to watch the teachers' explanations several times, at home if you choose to do so, and a note-taking system in which your writing is always available - and readable. Imagine built-in glossaries, calculators - both standard and specialized - and maps.
Edgenuity courseware offers all that and more to middle and high school students. The online program has 200 core curricula, advanced placement, honors, elective, credit recovery and dual-credit courses. It also offers college-level and exam preparation courses, as well as remediation courses in math and English.
All the students have a course map that shows them the entire structure of the course. They have access to videos that feature teachers giving detailed explanations. Their daily assignments and a variety of assessment tools are available online, too.
Alexsis Blake, former Taos Cyber Magnet School head teacher, is one of the two professional development specialists for Edgenuity in New Mexico. The organization trains teachers and administrators whose schools have purchased the program.
"Edgenuity can be used in many ways," she said. "Small towns use it to provide their students with more selection in elective courses, but also because it's harder to find highly qualified teachers in places with very low populations."
How the program works
In most cases, the students listen to an online lecturer. They then need to answer questions and think critically to advance to the next lesson.
"They can back the lecture up, a huge advantage, since this is difficult to do in a regular classroom setting," Blake said.
Another helpful tool is the assignment calendar that shows students everything they need to do each day to stay on track and complete their course on time. They have a progress bar that tells them when they are on target and when they have fallen behind and need to catch up.
"Students know every day, based on their calendar, what work is due," Blake said. "There is no guesswork and there is no 'lost' homework."
The students also have access to transcripts for the lectures that are translatable into 17 languages.
"Pretty cool for the [English as a second language] learners," Blake said.
There is a system of electronic notes that are always available to the students. Their e-Notes - or digital notebooks - can be edited and they are automatically saved.
Some of the advantages of the program are that the student controls their learning process and the in-classroom teacher has more time to work with them individually.
"The lessons are planned out, so teachers can use that time to work with students who need support," Blake said. "They no longer have to spend hours planning courses or grading and entering grades. In large part, the system does this for them, though there are some exceptions to the online grading, most notably in English."
Another Edgenuity benefit is that teachers, students, parents and anyone with a vested interest in the students can track them minute by minute to see how they are progressing in their schoolwork.
"Teachers give them feedback," Blake said. "The students can always go to them with questions and ask for help. The premise of the program is that students are responsible for their own success, but they don't have to do it alone."
Edgenuity in Taos
Taos High School, Taos Academy and Taos Cyber Magnet are among the local schools that currently use Edgenuity for some or all their courses.
"At Cyber Magnet, most of the ninth-graders' course instruction is done through Edgenuity," said Kate Jensen, a former middle school teacher who is currently the Taos Cyber Magnet School head teacher. "We also use Lincoln Learning Solutions for 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, and we have a math teacher who provides all of them with direct instruction."
Jensen considers Edgenuity a rigorous program that allows the students to learn how to take notes, study for an exam and get ready for higher education.
"Of course, they need to be self-motivated to use it," she said. "But at the same time, Edgenuity encourages them to learn, giving them constant feedback and the right tools to continue learning."
One of the students who used Edgenuity for most of her high school courses is Savannah Romero, the new reina de Las Fiestas de Taos and a 2017 graduate from Taos Cyber Magnet School, which she attended for four years.
"This is a really good program," she said. "It allows the students to work at their own pace. I like the fact that I could always watch the lessons again to learn more. And having a math tutor here was a great help. We could figure things out together."
Edgenuity, founded in 1998, is based in Scottsdale, Arizona.