New Virtual H.S. Offers Self-Paced Curriculum

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Students wishing to pursue a high school level education online have one more option for earning their diplomas with the launch of Houston-based Virtual Horizons Online High School (www.virtualhorizonsonline.com) in January. At presstime, 27 students had already enrolled during the first six weeks that the school was open. While this number seems small, Vicky Hennigan, CEO of Virtual Horizons Online, postulates that such a growth rate could result in 250 students enrolled by the end of the year.

While some of the benefits of a Virtual Horizons Online education are similar to the benefits of any other e-learning program, Virtual Horizons d'es offer some distinct learning opportunities.

For one, its curriculum is entirely self-paced and its courses are entirely online, with no textbooks to purchase. Writing assignments are also included in every course, and teachers interact with students through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging and message boards. This makes earning a high school diploma an easy and engaging experience for homeschoolers, athletes, adults, and students traveling or living abroad.

An online high school education can have other benefits, says Hennigan, who cites a lack of peer pressure and flexibility of scheduling as two main benefits. “An online high school education allows students to have more control over their educational process, requiring them to take responsibility for their own learning,” she says.

In addition, an online high school education better prepares students for college and the business world. The curriculum at Virtual Horizons Online requires students to create PowerPoint presentations, download and create files, and design Web pages to present research papers. “These skills are marketable, and provide our students with an advantage over students educated in a more traditional brick-and-mortar school,” says Hennigan.    —A.D.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.

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