Online schools in Alaska are growing at a slightly lower rate than in other parts of the country. This is because access to broadband is sparse in the most remote rural towns. However, this form of education is still offered at many higher education institutions in Alaska and will continue to grow as access to broadband expands. At the secondary level, a system of online courses for public high school students has been developed to raise academic standards across the state. Listed below are a few of the best online and general education initiatives on the scene in Alaska today.
Higher Learning Initiatives
Alaska’s Learning Network
Alaska’s Learning Network (AKLN) is an online learning and professional development platform for public high school students and teachers in Alaska. The site was designed to provide students and teachers access to the best training and learning opportunities, no matter what school district they belong to. It is used as a supplementary resource in traditional classrooms. AKLN is made possible by a coalition of every public school district in the state and is managed by an appointed advisory board. Launched in 2011, the platform is also sponsored by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, the Alaska Council of School Administrators, the Alaska Staff Development Network and the Association of Alaska School Boards.
Blueprint for Reform
In the spring of 2009, the U.S. Department of Education began talks with American Indian and Alaska Native leaders to discuss the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Blueprint for Reform is the guide for reauthorization and reform that was created from these talks. Essentially, this guide states that the government promises to work on reforming the ESEA to improve educational outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native students. Since 2010, the department has met with more than 350 tribal leaders to find out what issues deserve immediate solutions and what other changes these cultural groups would like to see in the education system.
The Alaska Virtual Academy
Correspondence schools are popular in Alaskan rural towns, where homeschooling is sometimes a better option than traditional schooling. Most correspondence courses in Alaska are taught via video conferencing and DVD, because broadband is not widely available across the state. As such, only one correspondence school operates entirely online, the Alaska Virtual Academy. This online academy is part of the public school district and provides online homeschooling to K-8 students, free of charge. Since its first semester in 2009, the Alaska Virtual Academy has continued to serve a small number of students and families and is expected to continue to grow as more people gain access to broadband Internet.