Online classes may be option for district

Glendale Unified officials this week said they are exploring options to develop online courses that could serve as an alternative, or supplement, to traditional classroom learning.

Students already are permitted to take online courses for credit from accredited institutions, but only with pre-approval from school officials. Now the district is looking to develop its own online curriculum, Deputy Supt. John Garcia said.

The first of two options would see Glendale Unified teachers writing and teaching their own online classes, he said.

“This isn’t something that every teacher is going to be interested in, so we worked with the principals to say, ‘Are there some teachers out there that you can talk to, to see if they might be interested in developing an online course in a particular area for piloting in the summer?’” Garcia said.

The next steps would include selecting an Internet platform and building the content, he said.

The district also is exploring a second option in which Glendale Unified teachers would teach online classes that are developed by outside providers.

“I’m very excited always about offering more options to our students,” Glendale Unified school board Vice President Joylene Wagner said.

Online courses create options for students struggling to manage schedules already filled with classes and extracurricular activities, or for those who function better in alternative learning environments, officials said.

“That is a different type of environment whereby students don’t necessarily have to be enrolled in a particular school…they could be an independent-study student, or theoretically, if there are a enough courses offered down the line, they wouldn’t even necessarily have to be enrolled in Glendale Unified,” Garcia said.

The online courses could potentially be leveraged to reduce the number of students enrolled in traditional classes, helping to keep class sizes small, said school-board member Christine Walters.

“I think the possibilities for this are more and more promising,” she said.

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