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LAUSD offers virtual academy for students

August 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Back to school means staying at home in front of a computer for some Los Angeles students this year, but these are hardly home-schooled children.This year, the Los Angeles Unified School District is offering the entire ninth and tenth grade curriculum through Coava, the City of Angels Virtual Academy.

Instead of sitting in a classroom with his peers, David Diaz, a ninth grader, wants to attend Coava.

"It's different here because you get one-on-one, and in a school there are many kids and you don't understand sometimes," said Diaz.

650 students are enrolled in the academy. The students will get announcements, assignments and text books on their computers and they will email their homework to their teachers.

Coava English teacher Lisa Hernandez said her online classroom gives her more time to work with her students.

"Having the opportunity to contact me so readily via text, email, phone, it has really enhanced their experience. They say they communicate with me more than with a regular teacher," said Lisa Hernandez, a Coava English teacher.

Each lesson has a video tutor so if students don't understand something, this is one way they can try to get the answer, or they can text a question to their teacher.

There is still some old-fashioned schooling involved. Test-taking is in person and on paper, so students can't cheat. Teachers also have office hours to work with students face-to-face.

"Being at school is kind of easier because you're with the teacher and online, you have to do it online by yourself. So I think online is pretty hard, but at the same time it was good because I got to do more stuff over the summer," student Angelica Chew.

The convenience and flexibility attracted Brittany Bonilla to the virtual academy for a summer history class over the summer.

"Just doing it from home on your own personal laptop is so much easier than having to go to a classroom," said Bonilla.

The district plans to expand the virtual academy next year to grades nine through 12, and eventually offer it beginning in kindergarten.


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