Governor Branstad's Plan: More On-Line Classes

Posted at: 02/13/2013 9:04 PM
Updated at: 02/13/2013 10:12 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 News) -- There's not much we can't do on-line these days. We stay in touch, manage our bank accounts and do our shopping on our computers. So why not learning? Some Iowa students are doing that now, and the state's governor wants to see that number grow.

"The Internet, technology is their world," said Saint Ansgar secondary schools principal Kristy Wagner.

Nearly a thousand students across Iowa currently take classes on-line.

"It's a good alternative for many students," said principal Wagner.

Now, Governor Terry Branstad is asking lawmakers to set aside $4.5 Million over the next 3 years to expand on-line classes to another 2,500 students per year.

"I think for the smaller schools it gives us more options," principal Wagner told us. “We use it sometimes for credit recovery. We also are using it for some accelerated students as well."

“I'm taking Spanish two on line," said St. Ansgar senior Sarah Bublitz. “I wanted to get two credits of a foreign language for college."

The course didn’t fit in with her classroom schedule, so she’s now taking it on-line during a free period in her school day.

"We just watch videos and do quizzes and tests. It's just like other courses."

But just because it's on-line doesn't mean that teachers are obsolete.

"We have somebody that checks to make sure they're answering the questions that they're following through with the assignment," said principal Wagner.

“I feel like for a foreign language, it's more difficult because like pronunciation of words would be easier with a teacher," Bublitz told us.

But whether it's in a classroom with a teacher or a computer, success still depends on hard work.

"We're allowing enough time in the semester for them to finish the course, it's just keeping them motivated enough to continue to do that," said principal Wagner.

Governor Terry Branstad's proposal would require school districts to pay $250 per pupil to support the on-line classes once state funding expired.