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ESchools – Guest Opinion Post by Mike Freeburn

Back in 1990 when I was a student teacher at Durango High School, the Internet didn’t yet exist and a flip-phone was purely Star Trek fodder. Now, the flip-phone is old school and most us carry around in our pocket a computer far more powerful and sophisticated than all of the computers used during the Apollo moon missions.

With the remarkable changes of the past decade have produced almost unlimited opportunities to do things differently –  communicate differently, work differently, and learn differently. This concept of learning differently certainly helped to inspired the motto of the Southwest Colorado eSchool, where our students have the freedom to “Learn Differently Anywhere.”

I’m proud of the choice and opportunity that the Southwest Colorado eSchool (SWCeS) brings to Durango and in this Guest Opinion, I’d like to bring you in to what makes our eSchool one to watch.

For those of you just learning about the Southwest Colorado eSchool (SWCeS) and online learning in general, you may be surprised at what you find. In Colorado alone, there are now 66 state-approved online schools and programs, of which SWCeS is one. There are presently three free-of-charge online schools operating in Durango.

I like to think of SWCeS as the only true local option, since we were home-grown and are embedded within the San Juan BOCES.

LEARNING DIFFERENTLY ANYWHERE

At the SWCeS, we specialize in making our tagline a reality for our students while also supporting students of local brick-and-mortar schools. The eSchool is a multi-district, accredited, online school serving students who reside within the San Juan BOCES service area of Southwest Colorado. Our geographic area spans from Pagosa Springs to Dove Creek and Ignacio to Silverton and there are nine school districts in all.

SWCeS opened in 2011 as a collaborative project of the SJ BOCES and its member school districts. We partner with the following course providers:

  1. The Jefferson County 21st Century Virtual Academy (J21VA)
  2. Colorado Digital Learning Solutions (CDLS)
  3. Acellus Learning Systems
  4. Prepworks

1 – J21VA provides about 95% of our courses. There is a live teacher associated with each course and the J21VA teachers are highly experienced in the online learning environment. They’re also Colorado Certified teachers who specialize in their subject areas. These courses are highly rigorous, well organized and of very high quality. Most J21VA teachers work exclusively for J21VA. All J21VA curriculum is aligned with the Colorado Academic Standards.

2 – CDLS offers an excellent variety of additional course options, including many unavailable through J21VA. Most CDLS teachers teach only a few courses for CDLS and teach at a brick-and-mortar school within Colorado. All CDLS instructors are also Colorado Certified teachers with subject focus specialization. All CDLS curriculum is aligned with the Colorado Academic Standards.

3 – At the eSchool, we utilize Acellus courses exclusively for credit recovery (only after a course has been taken unsuccessfully). Our regional partners are utilizing Acellus for credit recovery in summer school, and in credit recovery classes during the school year. The effectiveness of Acellus courses is improved significantly in a “blended” learning environment (where there is a live teacher working with students regularly and have expertise in the subject area of the assigned group – math teacher with math credit recovery students, etc.). Acellus is also an option for our partner districts to provide educational options for homebound or expelled students. Acullus curriculum is aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

4 – Test Prep from Prepworks is being utilized by eSchool students with the express purpose of supporting and preparing students for high stakes exams such as the SAT, PSAT and ACT.

I’d like to thank Melissa Youssef for her recent coverage of the eSchool in this blog, “Your Front Row Seat,” and for the opportunity to offer even more information to you, her readership.

Over the past year, Durango’s eSchool has truly leveled-up and I’m very proud of the many learning opportunities we’re able to bring to the community. Please visit the SWCeS website, and follow us on Facebook to get updates on our online school’s happenings and community.

Mike Freeburn
Principle, Southwest Colorado eSchool

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