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Access to digital learning expanding in Michigan

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Section 21f of the State School Aid Act expands access to digital learning options for students in Michigan. The new digital learning initiative was approved by the Legislature and the Governor in June 2013.

This legislation enables public school students in grades 5-12 (with the consent of parent or guardian) to enroll in up to two online courses during an academic term, semester or trimester. The legislation indicates that students may select online course offerings from their local district catalog of online courses or from those available in the statewide catalog of online course titles.

Michigan Virtual expects the statewide catalog to be available to schools, students and the general public beginning in October 2013. Students and their parents will be able to review online course syllabi in the statewide catalog during the fall so that enrollment requests in online courses can be made for the second semester beginning in January 2014.

Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Michigan Virtual, the state-created nonprofit that operates the Michigan Virtual for Students, predicts tens of thousands students will take advantage of the new state rules.

“This recent shift in policy is bold and will serve as a major catalyst to expand Michigan-based online learning options for students,” Fitzpatrick said. “The legislation empowers school districts to engage in online learning and offers unprecedented options for students.”

Representatives from the Michigan Department of Education and Michigan Virtual have developed a list of frequently asked questions to help schools and parents to understand the new initiative. This document provides the most extensive explanation yet on some of the key elements surrounding Section 21f of the State School Aid Act. MDE and Michigan Virtual are working to finalize additional questions and will jointly publish updates going forward.

As a condition of offering an online course, either as part of a district catalog or as part of the statewide catalog, a district is responsible for producing an online course syllabus. The legislation requires that an online course syllabus includes a dozen items ranging from the academic standards addressed in the online course to the identification of student prerequisites. One of the required items in the course syllabus is the results of the online course quality review using the guidelines and model review process published by Michigan Virtual.

Michigan Virtual has been accepting public comment on the draft guidelines since early August, and you can offer input until August 31, 2013. The feedback will be used to finalize the guidelines. A final version of the guidelines will be published in early September. Educators are encouraged to submit feedback via email to [email protected].

About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual is a private, nonprofit Michigan corporation established by the State of Michigan in 1998 to serve as a champion for online learning. It is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual for Students and Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute.

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About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute®. As a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience, Michigan Virtual is Michigan’s leading voice in online education. Visit us at michiganvirtual.org.

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