Virtual Classes a Potential Boon to Texoma ISD's

Online classes are nothing new for college students. But, that technology has made its way into Texoma High Schools. And that could mean more money with budget cuts looming.

Students at the Graham Learning Center are already taking courses in a virtual classroom. The classes, based on the state-approved Compass Learning program, allow students to work toward their high school diploma virtually.

Graham ISD Superintendent Beau Rees said students could potentially earn the entire diploma online. But, he said, Graham ISD uses the coursework for a more specific purpose. "It is for students who have not fared well in a traditional high school setting," he said.

But, students from outside the district could take the courses remotely, giving Graham ISD an opportunity to generate revenue. Districts throughout the state are connected via the Texas Virtual School Network. Students can enroll in classes through any district that participates.

If a student completes a credit from an outside district, the ISD and the class teacher each receive half of the $400 tuition fee. And Dr. Rees said he can envision a time in the future when classroom learning could be supplemented by online instruction an a broader basis. That could mean real savings in light of looming cuts in Austin.

But, Dr. Rees and teachers at the Graham Learning Center said they don't see online learning phasing out the classroom. "You can never replace a highly-qualified, passionate teacher in a classroom," said Dr. Rees. "No computer or software can ever do that."

Graham Learning Center Lead Teacher Karen McBride also said she doesn't see virtual learning taking the place of a real classroom. "There's a lot to be said," she said, "for the social aspects of the classroom and working, you know, face-to-face with the teacher and with other students."

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6.