The digital age has made it possible to learn everything you need to know about gerberas, grains and George Bush with just a few clicks of a mouse.
For those yearning to earn some academic credit for their effort, the North Vancouver school board offers various online courses through its North Vancouver Distributed Learning School.
The distance learning program offers online grades 10, 11 and 12 courses for students and adults who have either not graduated and want to graduate or who have graduated and want to upgrade certain courses to get into a postsecondary institution.
Maureen Stanger is the district principal for the program and explains that distance education has been around for about 20 years. Before computers, students received paper packages as part of a correspondence course. That same idea has been applied to the new format and all the material is now available online. In B.C., all of the online schools put their roster on the website learnnowbc.ca, and students can cross enroll and take courses anywhere in the province online, as well as attend a mainstream high school.
"So it gives lots of flexibility," says Stanger.
Enrollment in the North Vancouver distance learning courses is generally
ongoing, so participants can start when they want and finish when they want. Some courses are offered as a cohort model in which students start together and the course has a specific end date. Those courses may also include online lessons with an instructor, as well as a virtual classroom students can log in to and communicate with the instructor and other students. Stanger says the cohort model is a good option for those adults and students who prefer a more structured timetable.
The main distance learning centre is located at Mountainside secondary on Mahon Avenue in North Vancouver. Seven teachers are available through the centre to assist students and adults who need face-to-face support with course material or need help navigating through the online course technology. There are also distance learning centres in each of the North Vancouver secondary schools. Instructors in the program are all qualified B.C. teachers.
Currently, the distributed learning centre has about 1,600 students enrolled. Of those, about 250 are adults, 100 of which are working toward a high school graduation. The other 100 are adults who have graduated but are upgrading. There is no upper age limit for adults who want to enroll, and Stanger says the program has had students up to 80 years old.
"The online piece really gives them flexibility," says Stanger, noting most of the enrolled adults are working and/or have kids, and distance learning allows them to work around their schedule.
Most of the courses that lead to graduation or are upgrades to get into a post-secondary program are free, but some of the courses that are considered electives are not free.
Anyone who is interested in taking courses but doesn't know where to start can contact Stanger or her colleague Lee Miller at 604-903-3333 to schedule an appointment. Stanger says an academic advisor at the centre can help adults develop a study plan.
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