COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO) — More than 850,000 Minnesota students return to their classrooms on Tuesday after summer break, and thousands of them will do so without ever leaving their homes.
It’s possible thanks to virtual learning, where classes are taught by teachers at the other end of a home computer.
High school English teacher Kristen Rohloff is preparing for another school year. She’s doing so in the corner office of her home which also serves as her classroom.
“The benefit is we can be teaching from anywhere in the state,” Rohloff said.
The one-time public school teacher is now with Minnesota Virtual Academy. She is about to begin her fourth year teaching from the comforts of home.
Since brick and mortar classrooms are not needed, MNVA’s students are enrolled from all parts of the state.
Rohloff says this style of teaching is actually more like traditional education than one would think.
“We have live class sessions that students can attend, then if they can’t here is where the flexibility comes in — we have the lessons recorded so they can watch as needed,” Rohloff said.
Unlike a conventional school setting, the daily lessons are taught entirely online. Students sign into the portal at a time that’s most convenient.
“It definitely beats waking up at 6 a.m. each morning,” Ella Montsma laughs.
The 2018 graduate of MNVA is now enrolled in college. Montsma says virtual learning is perfect for students with social anxiety concerns, certain illnesses which require them to stay at home, even teenage moms who would have no other option but to drop out of school.
“It beats home schooling because you still have teachers and others around because it’s a public online school,” Montsma said.
As for teacher Rohloff, the online teaching gives her the flexibility she needs — both as a young mother and a self-published author.
“I really do think that without this I’d have to find something else that suited my home life better,” Rohloff said.
Think of it as a sign of the times. It’s a way to reach the needs of all students through interactive technology.