How Online School Works FAQs
What is a virtual public school?
A tuition-free virtual school is basically public school at home—or anywhere there's an internet connection. K12-powered virtual schools combine the benefits of traditional public schools—such as certified teachers, quality curriculum, and student clubs—with the personalized attention and convenience of online learning from the safety and comfort of home.
How does it work?
At K12-powered schools, students participate in live, online sessions (called Class Connects) taught by state-certified teachers. Coursework is a mix of online and offline lessons and activities.* Students receive a personalized approach to an engaging curriculum. Take a closer look at how online learning works.
What's expected of online students?
K12-powered students do many of the same things students at traditional schools do—they just accomplish things a little differently. Online students are expected to log in to their courses each school day, complete their lessons and assignments, and attend live Class Connect sessions with their teachers. And it's especially important that students contact their teachers when they need extra help, since teachers aren't able to see when a student is struggling.
Students at K12-powered online public schools are also expected to participate in any state testing their school requires and may have to log their attendance depending on their school's policy.
Do online students have a flexible schedule?
While there is more room to decide your daily schedule, online students still have expected school days that follow a traditional academic calendar, and there are attendance requirements online students must meet. Students also need to plan to attend all live Class Connect sessions with their teachers when they are scheduled. However, where school happens is up to you! So long as students have an internet connection, they can work from home or on the go. And they can match their lesson schedule to their preference by tackling a tough subject first, or starting with the class they like best so they can personalize their learning and play to their strengths.
What are parents' roles and responsibilities?
A parent (or another responsible adult) acts as their child's Learning Coach.
In elementary school and middle school, the Learning Coach works with the teacher to help their child through the daily lessons, modifying the pace and schedule as needed. The Learning Coach manages the student's schedule and ensures that work is being completed at a reasonable pace, while teachers monitor progress, ensure mastery, and develop specific intervention plans when a child is struggling.
In high school, the Learning Coach role changes to one of oversight—still an important supportive role to help the student stay on task and ensure the student is following through on their assignments. During high school, though, students are expected to start managing their own time and academic schedule more directly.
How many of my children can enroll in a K12-powered school option at a time?
Because K12 provides the lesson plans and materials needed for grades K–12, many parents find it easy to enroll multiple children in the program.
What tools are available for parents?
Along with the curriculum, we give you planning and progress tools, including an electronic calendar with suggested lessons for each day and a detailed outline of the total time required for each lesson. In addition, our built-in online tracking system helps you to determine how your child is progressing in terms of pace and development.
What materials are needed for online school? Are any materials supplied?
Other than a computer, printer, internet connectivity, and perhaps a headset, students only need basic school supplies to learn online. This includes paper (writing and printer); pencils and a pencil sharpener; and a binder, notebook, or folders to store printed items and completed assignments. Learning Coaches also need to supply replacement ink for printers.
Students may also find these items useful:
- crayons, colored markers, colored pencils
- a ruler
- index cards
- page protectors
- a calendar or planner
- a clock, watch, or another way to keep track of time
Household items will also be needed occasionally, and you can check the Materials and Advanced Preparation tabs in the elementary lessons for this information before each school week starts. Some schools do provide you with a supply list. Note that some schools provide computers, printers, and a headset, and you will be advised of this during enrollment. Some schools also reimburse for internet connectivity costs, and you will be advised of this by your school or during enrollment.
Students will also need a learning area. A learning area needs a work surface, such as a desk or table, seating for the student and Learning Coach, adequate lighting, minimal distractions, a place nearby to store the learning materials, and a strong, reliable internet connection.
How can I keep track of materials and shipments?
Materials typically arrive within a two-week window of your school start date. You can check on your materials shipment in the K12 app or in the OLS by visiting My Info. You can access My Info by logging in to your Learning Coach OLS account, clicking on your name in the upper right corner, then choosing My Info from the drop-down menu. From the Student Information screen, click on the student’s name, then select the Orders tab. Select the Order Number you wish to view, then scroll down to Course Materials for an order summary including the materials for each course, kit name, SKU number, order status, and tracking number. Use UPS.com to track your order. You can read more details about Tracking Shipping Status.
Will anyone from the school have to come into my home?
There are no home visits as part of the program, and there are no other intrusions into your home.
When will my student be able to see their courses and teacher assignments?
In most schools, schedules load on the first day of school. Schedules include links to Class Connect sessions, courses, and online lessons.
What is the role of the teacher in K12-powered online public schools?
In grades K–5, students usually have one teacher who is there to direct the Learning Coach, monitor progress, and to focus on each student's individual academic needs. In middle school and high school, students have a team of teachers who are certified in their areas of expertise. Teachers are responsible for reviewing all student work and providing instructional feedback. Teachers grade students' assignments and review assessments; respond to student questions via email or phone; conduct online full-class discussions and tutorial sessions to reinforce difficult topics; and offer online "office hours" to allow students to stop in with questions.
How much time do students spend on the computer?
In the younger grades, many of the online lessons include offline work. Students in grades K–2 spend about 30–40 percent of their time on the computer, while students in grades 3–5 spend about 50–60 percent of their time online. Screen time increases in middle school, and by high school, most of the school day is online.
What computer skills are required?
Some basic computer and internet skills are required for students and Learning Coaches. We provide information on how to set up your accounts, and the program is user-friendly. We also have technical help available if you have questions.
How do I access online class sessions (Class Connects)?
Links to Class Connect sessions for each day appear on the landing page of both the student and Learning Coach OLS accounts. Simply click on the link to attend the session. Clicking on an expired link for a session launches the recording of the session. These links direct you to the session using the appropriate program, whether Blackboard Collaborate or Newrow. Note that the Blackboard Launcher will need to be installed about 20 minutes in advance if you haven’t used it before.
In addition, content just for Learning Coaches, such as the K12 national programs, will appear under the My Schedule tab on the Learning Coach account page. This video explains Class Connect for Learning Coaches.
How do students in online public schools socialize?
Throughout the year, students are invited to participate in school outings, field trips, picnics, and other social events. These outings and activities may include trips to museums, skate parks, zoos, clubs, student government, dances, and even graduation ceremonies. We expect local clusters of students and parents to get together on a regular basis in their areas. We are also exploring new ways to interact socially using the powerful reach of the internet. With online discussions and forums, new types of communities can be formed that are based not on geography but on shared interests. Students can also join a wide variety of clubs—some student-led, some headed by teachers—covering myriad topics of interests and connecting them to their peers across the nation and around the globe.
Can I connect with families who are currently using K12-powered schools?
Sure! Visit our "What's Your Story" site, where you can read real stories from K12 students and families about how a K12-powered education has made a difference in their lives. Also, many of our online public schools have Facebook pages set up to connect local families. Feel free to post any questions you may have. In addition, you may want to attend one of the many activities hosted by K12 and our local schools every month. At these events you can meet current families and talk to teachers and representatives to get a feel for what the program is like day to day. See our events calendar to find out what's coming up in your area.