KCPS students taking classes at different schools in virtual distance learning program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City area students are getting the opportunity to learn outside their school community.

Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts has started a virtual distance learning program. There are seven district-run labs.

David Anstaett is the manager of instructional technology at Kansas City Public Schools and explains the program.

"What it allows us to do is if we have an AP student, but you don't have enough to have a teacher for a class at one school, but we do have enough to have a collective class all over the district, so we send a class from one of the schools into all the other schools."

Students do have a facilitator in the classroom with them.

"They're progressing rapidly," says Anstaett. "Last year was kind of a developmental stage. This year, they're doing really well. This year everyone's really positive. I think it's because it's through the growing procedure. I've got four new teachers this year that have never done it before, but they're doing wonderfully well. And I think part of that is because the teachers in the past and the facilitators from the past have been able to help them and they like it. Kids like it. Especially if you're a high school junior and you need this course and you can't get it and then all of a sudden look what we have and the districts really gone out of its way to help these students."

Anstaett has gotten to test the effectiveness of the distance learning classes.

"I actually did a study eight years ago and I was able to do it because I was teaching on TV, I was teaching online and I was teaching in a regular classroom and I was teaching the same class. My contention at that time was that the students in the regular classroom will fare better than the students on TV and the students online. And after one full year of doing this, the students in this situation (distance learning) did the best. The students online did second and the students in the classroom, if you look at overall grades, did the least. I couldn't figure out why and I asked one of my students. Students online answered immediately, "I taped it"."

This technology allows students to review lessons instead of notes before exams. Anstaett predicts that the program will even expand next year.

"I think that we will be expanding, I really do. I could be wrong, but…I think they will expand. Right now we're filled most hours, but we have schools that don't have things, but I think that's a matter of putting it in, and we're looking at possibilities. We're looking at what can you do that we're not doing. What can you do with students who are struggling? What can you do with a creative writing class, like Poetry across the district, not just at this school? Can we build that district wide where the students are interacting completely?"

The district offers distance learning classes in French, Calculus, Geometry, Spanish, AP English and AP History.

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