With many schools and districts moving to virtual classrooms, online learning is taking a front seat in education. Today, nearly all traditional schools that are closed due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 are working toward the shift from traditional classroom to online learning environments. Online learning can offer countless advantages to students, including flexible scheduling, self-paced courses, positive learning environments, and the acquisition of necessary digital and organizational skills that are important for success in the workplace. Although online learning is increasing in popularity and availability, online programs and schools are still an enigma to many students and parents, leaving room for misconceptions and confusion regarding how online learning can work.
Brookfield Engineering Science Technology or B.E.S.T. Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school, serving 3rd through 12th grade students in San Diego, Riverside, Orange, and Imperial Counties. Some BEST Academy students enroll as elementary or middle school students and some enroll as current high schoolers choosing to complete their educational program and graduate with their BEST Academy diploma to pursue college, military careers, or apply their certifications directly into the workplace. Enrolling high school students can make up credits, finish high school school early, or pursue college and career pathways by either taking dual enrollment college courses or engaging in industry certifications programs. Not all online schools have complete curriculum programs and career industry certification programs and it's important when reviewing online learning programs, to understand some key components that can make the online learning school program a positive experience for students and families.
Online classes are only as comprehensive and beneficial as the school behind them, and we believe the components outlined below are winning ingredients for successful online learning programs that engage student learning while offering the necessary individualized support for successful course completion and achievement. While we can’t speak for other schools, here are five key factors we believe attribute to successfull online learning at BEST Academy.
Customized Learning Pathways
BEST Academy partners with a wide variety of curriculum providers and before implementing any new content with students, our team strategically evaluates all online curriculum and learning programs. Our team of teachers, counselors, administrators, and board members carefully review online curriculum options to ensure online content is engaging to students with compatibility and customization features when considering implementing new digital learning resources and online curriculum options. Unlike many online schools that can only offer one type of online curriculum, BEST Academy partners with a wide variety of online curriculum providers and organizations to address various student needs, interests, and goals. For example, BEST Academy partners with Arizona State University to offer online college courses to students so they can build college credits while still enrolled in high school.
BEST Academy's career pathway students have access to career education courses through partnerships with online curriculum and course providers such as Odysseyware, eDynamic Learning, and ASU Prep Digital. Our partnership with eDynamic Learning provides BEST Academy Career Pathway students access to high-demand industry certification programs and presents powerful opportunities for students to build the skills and certifications they need while pursuing high-demand careers.
BEST Academy's online Mathematics, English Language Arts, Science, and History/Social Sciences courses are are aligned to the California Content Standards, the California Common Core Content Standards, and the California Next Generation Science Standards. BEST Academy College Pathway students can take high school courses approved by the University of California that are included on the A-G Reference List, while students who need to make up credits in our credit recovery pathway program have the option of taking onl flex courses that assigns only lessons within each unit that are needed for mastery and course completion.
Maintaining organizational independence from one sole curriculum provider and customizing learning pathways through one platform offers students a variety of online learning and curriculum options, and gives BEST Academy students a more personalized approach with individualized learning pathways and customized content aligned to interests and needs. Prioritizing customized online learning pathways for students, can present some technical and timely projects, but the student and family feedback about their personal learning experiences within our first year of operation, made it clear to us customization of online learning pathways will continue to be a top-tier priority.
We are constantly working to improve curriculum content and platform connectivity for students, and as we move forward, aim to improve student learning engagement and achievement outcomes with improved methods to customized online learning engagement and performance outcomes.
Every student has their own unique learning style and engage in learning and instruction based on their learning modality, interest, experience, comprehension level, and skill sets. BEST Academy students take an initial assessment to determine reading comprehension and math levels. This is the foundation for the team of students, families, teachers and counselors, and academic support coaches in building individualized student learning pathways with customized online classes and programs aligned to student assessment performance, interests, goals and learning styles.
Because of the focus on personalized support and customized leaning paths, we are able to offer a more individualized approach to learning than most traditional schools. We have students with varying backgrounds and academic needs, and we meet each and every student right where they are. Some students are aspiring athletes or performers with unique schedules, some are academically advanced and want to be challenged, some have skill gaps that make certain classes and learning more difficult, and some are previously homeschooled students or students in a military family. No matter what needs your child has academically or in terms of scheduling, BEST Academy is a great place to take online classes and get a quality education completely online.
Scheduling & Flexibility
Many schools follow a more traditional style of educating where the teachers lecture through direct instruction and students listen or take notes. Of course, there are opportunities for students to facilitate their own learning or to actively engage in the material they’re learning, but in online learning environments, there is far more self-directed learning and independence than in traditional school education environments. Because students don’t have a designated class time to work on assignments with a teacher present, they are responsible for completing their assignments on their own, meaning they take on more personal responsibility and independence than their traditionally educated peers.
Students who take online classes at BEST Academy are not required to log in to their classes at any specific time. This is different from traditional school's approach toward moving to virtual classroom initatives, but we’ve found it more beneficial to our students in many ways. Not only can students complete coursework on their own schedule, but flexibility in scheduling gives them more freedom in other parts of their life, such as working or attending athletic, music, acting and dance classes. Scheduling flexibility allows students to improve and refine their time management skills, as well as their abilities to self-motivate and discipline themselves to get their work done. Teachers do set deadlines for student assignments, projects, and assessments, but they can complete their online learning and assignments on their own schedule and at their own pace, helping them grow as independent learners.
Guidance & Support
BEST Academy offers personalized counseling and academic coaching support combined with individualized social and emotional learning. We believe social emotional learning is a top-tier priority for student success and go far beyond the basics of a character education program. Evidence-based social-emotional learning combined with personalized guidance and academic support connects teachers, families, and counselors with students by building rapport through a strength-based approach. We take pride in building strong relationships with students and families and provide the necessary guidance, academic coaching and tutoring support students in building successful college and career pathways.
All BEST Academy students are assigned California-credentialed teachers and counselors with access to academic coaching support and 24-7 tutoring. We believe all students want to succeed, and our partnership with The Princeton Review (tutor.com) provides BEST Academy students 24-7 access to on-demand tutoring support. Tutors connect with students to offer individualized learning through one-to-one engagements with subject matter experts. Tutors provide online instruction help, preparation for exams, and skill building in more than 40 subjects including math, reading, science and social studies for grades 4-12. Academic coaching is available where students need it, at home on a computer or on a mobile device. Academic coaches and tutors ensure BEST Academy students have equal access to targeted learning and teachers receive the data necessary to make informed decisions about ongoing instruction and personalized support.
BEST Academy's high school students taking college courses through our Arizona State University partnership, have complete access to the BEST Academy support team in addition to an ASU college instructor and ASU academic support counselor!
Interaction & Communication
One of the biggest concerns we hear from parents when considering online learning environments is the interaction their children will get with their peers and with their teachers. BEST Academy students interact in our online classrooms quite frequently, and depending on the courses, gain a significant amount of experience with collaboration and working as part of a group. Given the primary way they will interact with their peers, students are given ample opportunities to improve their written communication skills. At the same time, our students are able to communicate with their teachers, counselor, or tutor directly almost any time they want. Unlike at a traditional school where students have to meet with teachers at designated times, our teachers are available to your child during a large portion of the day so any questions can be asked and answered in a timely and thorough manner.
While BEST Academy programs are available to students residing in San Diego, Riverside, Orange, and Imperial Counties, students can complete their coursework anytime, anywhere. With our online learning programs and classes, you may find yourself learning at home, at the park, or on-the-go, and as long as there is internet access, can log in to your classes, 24-7 online tutoring sessions, connect with teachers, and submit assignments. If you are a child of a military service member, an aspiring athlete, musician or actor, and require frequent travel to accommodate your performance or training schedules, you can do your online classwork on-the-go and access instruction and assignments anytime in the day or night to meet required deadlines.
To learn more about how online learning works or for more information, get in touch with BEST Academy today! We are here to help and can get your enrollment process started or answer any questions you might have regarding your child’s education.