Online schools in Alabama have been established at a faster rate than in many other states. Most public higher education institutions in the state offer a selection of online learning programs, including the University of Alabama, Auburn University, and the University of South Alabama. A variety of private and for-profit institutions also offer accredited online certificates and degrees. The state even has an online education system for public high school teachers and students. Below are some of the most recent and noteworthy online education initiatives that are changing the way Alabamians learn today.
Higher Learning Initiatives
The ACCESS Distance Learning Initiative is a state program that was launched in 2004 to make public education more equal across schools. The goal of the program is to give students in every zip code access to additional, high-quality learning material through online course work. The state hopes the ACCESS initiative will eventually reverse the statistics that cite Alabama as one of the lowest-performing states for high school and college graduates. Students may complete ACCESS online courses as part of their regular school work, or they may complete them on their own time outside of school.
The Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX) was launched in 2002 by the Alabama Department of Education. It is an online resource for elementary and high school teachers, students and parents. The site provides free lesson plans, links to other online learning resources, interactive activities, and more. ALEX is still very much a work in progress, but it has a promising future. In 2011, the site won a Best of the Web Award from the Center for Digital Education.
Alabama Virtual Library
The Alabama Virtual Library is an online resource that provides access to a group of magazine, journal, and newspaper databases, which are ideal for academic research. There is no fee to use this resource, as it is funded by the government. The Alabama Virtual Library was launched in 1999 to give all students and citizens in the state equal access to a collection of educational reading material. Since its arrival, the site has been used as a research tool by high schools and higher education institutions. Although funding shortages have forced the library to remove a few databases for the 2012-2013 year, it still remains one of the best online learning resources in the state for teachers and students at various educational levels.