What are the requirements for virtual contact?
- The 20% contact time requirement for IS can be met by participating in a number of embedded activities within the online course.
- Students must participate in these activities in order to receive full academic credit for each unit and move on to the next unit.
Students must connect with their online teachers in four different ways:
Online Conferences: Students are required to meet with their online teacher in a chat conference on a weekly basis. The chat sessions offer students the opportunity to ask their teacher questions about topics they may be having trouble with and the sessions will allow the teacher to present material that may need additional explanation or instruction.
Discussion Forums: Each unit of instruction will include a discussion forum in which the student must submit a post at the beginning of the unit and then at the conclusion of the unit to summarize the learning that has occurred. The teacher will be able to monitor the students’ progress rate by determining how much time a student has been working in the unit as well as grasping the students’ understanding of the material at the conclusion of the unit. Additionally, students will be able to ask specific content questions regarding the topic of study within the forum.
Online Messaging: The instructor will communicate on a bi-weekly basis using the platform’s messaging capabilities to check in with the students in an effort a) to insure the student is on track and b) to discover if the student has any issues and concerns that need to be addressed.
Instructor Feedback: All assignments that the students complete will receive comprehensive feedback within the LMS. If a student requires an opportunity to correct some of his/her work, the instructor will be able to provide written feedback and teleconference to discuss further if needed.
How will this be tracked and documented?
Each of the four areas listed above has a function that will allow the teachers and administrators to track student/teacher contact. The Online Conferences are all automatically saved to the web platform so the students and teachers can review anything that has been previously discussed. The discussion forums are maintained in the LMS throughout the course and are always available for review. All student messaging conducted through the LMS is saved for the duration of the student’s enrollment. Lastly, the instructors’ feedback is saved within the course and is always available for the student to review.
For every unit completed, 1/5 of the associated hours for that unit will be considered virtual teacher contact time. In order to be awarded these hours, students MUST participate in the activities as directed by the teacher and MUST complete the unit work.
By participating in these activities and completing the units required for their credit, the student will have completed the 20% teacher contact as stipulated by MDE policy. Experience with online instruction has shown that teachers spend far more actual time than this in virtual contact with students, but the student must participate in the activities so their interactions with teachers can be documented.
To enroll as Independent Study, students indicate as follows:
During registration, choose the option under type labeled IS:
IS: I meet the criteria for at-risk graduation incentives and will take the course in addition to a full schedule at school through independent Study (counselor must verify).
When completing the enrollment process, be sure to indicate:
- Graduation incentives that apply (usually being behind in credits)
- RESIDENT district (may differ from district attending for diploma)
- Continuous Learning Plan Goals (usually to make up credits for graduation).
- Contact time option: Choose “Virtual Contact Pilot”
Independent Study arrangements
Please contact the NSO Coordinator to discuss arrangements for Independent Study before enrolling: