PSBA Bulletin September/October 2021 September/October 2021 - Page 23

THE RISE OF DISTRICT-BASED ONLINE LEARNING PROGRAMS
Entrance to the WC Cyber Center at Fugett Middle School . The Cyber Center is a physical location where WC Cyber Program students can gather to work , meet with peers and get extra help .
“ We really have not had a hard time filling these jobs ,” Christopher added . “ At the elementary level , we had more individuals interested in teaching in this format than we had positions available .”
As districts move into the 2021-22 school year , it is clear that cyber programs are part of the future and not just something to be left in the pandemic past . Elementary programs are providing more live , synchronous instruction , while at the secondary level , a blend of synchronous and asynchronous options gives students the ability to customize a school schedule , which is largely appealing as districts expand their options for postsecondary preparation .
“ More students are planning to take one or two classes online to open up their schedules to take more courses to participate in dual enrollment , job shadowing , internships , or accommodate an early or late arrival ,” said Sokolowski .
Overall , districts reemerging from 2020 with enhanced cyber education offerings to complement a return to traditional learning models see the change as a competitive advantage in serving students and parents who are returning to school with a new mindset .
AS DISTRICTS MOVE INTO THE 2021-22 SCHOOL YEAR , IT IS CLEAR THAT CYBER PROGRAMS ARE PART OF THE FUTURE AND NOT JUST SOMETHING TO BE LEFT IN THE PANDEMIC PAST .
“ Long range , in terms of the elementary program , particularly K , 1 , 2 , I don ’ t know if a cyber program is something that ’ s going to be sustainable or if that ’ s really desirable from an educational objective , but I do think later elementary school and certainly at that secondary level , I do believe the program is here to stay ,” Sokolowski said . “ I think the skills that our students , all students , have gained during the pandemic , from resiliency to the digital skills they have , I think that ’ s going to allow this generation of students to propel themselves forward in an amazing way .”
And while the programming may look differently across districts , it is clear that the future of education is now .
“ I hear people talk about 21st-century skills and we are 21 years into the 21st century ,” said Christopher . “ Next year , I am going to have teachers who were born in the 21st century on my staff . It ’ s time to stop talking about the 21st century as the future .” B
September / October 2021 PSBA Bulletin 21