In a Virtual World, a Virtual Classroom
It's a growing trend in Marion County: 2,000 students participate in virtual class.
From elementary through high school, these children take one or more subjects online. They can do so from a school offering the program, or from home.
At Osceola Middle School in Ocala, 24 students log on to learn one subject and attend a regular classroom for others. They are part of a hybrid group, with the majority of virtual students being home-schooled.
The virtual education is part of the Marion County Education System.
"It's free public education, and that's a real advantage," said Carolyn Ayres, the Franchise Manager for Marion County Virtual Schools.
With little overhead, Ayers said, the program has also helped reduce class size.
In the County, the program employs 11 full-time, certified teachers plus nine adjuncts. They monitor and grade students and are a chat or phone call away.
Sixth grader, Mckenzi Mrozek said virtual classes allow her to work at her own pace. "I just like that I can take my time and focus on the one thing. I don't have to be rushed," she said.
Ayers said virtual students are often ahead of their in-classroom schoolmates. Six hundred of them have already completed the semester.
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