About Free Public Online School

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Even before COVID-19 catapulted online learning into the spotlight, free online schools like ICON have been helping students find a nontraditional path to learning.

Now, as school districts grapple with the new normal, many educators, parents, and students are seeking resources and alternatives around virtual school. This guide will help you learn more about online school and how to create a safe, productive, and flexible learning experience.

Are you a parent or student seeking more details on what enrollment at ICON entails? Learn more here.

What Does Online School Look Like?

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Online schools like ICON have a traditional curriculum and offer a variety of state-required courses and electives. Students have individualized plans and the flexibility to complete their coursework when it’s convenient. Online school is asynchronous, meaning there are no set class times and students can “attend” whenever works best for their schedule.

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Online vs. Remote Learning

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While the terms “online” and “remote” might be used interchangeably by some, these are actually two different types of learning. Remote learning is what most districts are doing now: classes are still held at regular times and students use Zoom, Google Meets, or Microsoft Teams to attend classes in real time. While not every class is using this method, this is what many students are accustomed to during the pandemic.

Online learning, on the other hand, is asynchronous, as mentioned above. Learning is self-directed and flexible. Students have a set number of classes and specific amounts of time to complete classwork, homework, tests, or projects, but they can do that work at any time during the school day. 

Benefits of Online School

While the switch from in-person to virtual learning has been an adjustment for many students, plenty of others are learning why online school is a great option. There are plenty of benefits of online learning, with flexibility and comfort being among the most compelling.

Before the pandemic, some popular reasons for choosing online school included being able to learn at one’s own pace, getting ahead and graduating early, and getting away from situations that cause some students stress. Students with mental health concerns and students who have experienced bullying are examples where online school offers a safer and more productive learning experiences.

Who Does Virtual Learning Work For

As we discussed above, students who have experienced difficulties in traditional school due to bullying or mental health struggles often find that virtual academies are the perfect solution, allowing them to focus on their studies without distraction. Additionally, students who have different learning styles that don’t align with in-person learning can also find success in online schooling.

There is a wide variety of students who benefit from online school, including:

As you can see, there is no one “type” of student who benefits from online school. Many find that the flexibility inherent in virtual learning works well for their particular needs.

How to Get Started with Online School

If you’ve made the decision to switch to free online school, there are a few things you should know. Online schools typically enroll students year-round, but it’s important to understand what the adjustment will be like for starting at the traditional fall time versus starting mid-year.

Switching from a private school to online school? Here’s what to ask.

Planning ahead for the transition from traditional school to online school can help make things easier for everyone. One of the most important things is to ensure you have the technological requirements met. That means having reliable Wi-Fi (or somewhere to go during work times) and having a computer. At ICON, we offer free laptops to enrolled students, so there’s one less thing to worry about. Students should also get to know the platform being used prior to starting coursework so that they feel comfortable with where to find materials, how to submit assignments, and what to do when they need help from teachers.

Beyond your tech needs, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated workspace and create some structure so students can stay on track. Having everyone in the house understand and respect work times can allow students to avoid physical distractions.

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Check out this online learning resource guide for more tips to help make online learning a success.