Johnstown Independent

Johnstown-Monroe

JOLT puts classes at fingertips for online learners

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The Johnstown-Monroe Local Schools will offer a new program for the 2014-15 school year called Johnstown Online Leaning Tools.

District leaders call it JOLT.

Virtual-learning coordinator Jeff Rings said the district wants to be at the forefront of providing opportunities for students and parents to personalize their children's education. The new program, he said, would enhance online classes that already are in place.

He said the purpose of the JOLT program is to provide students with a quality learning opportunity that would let them personalize their education through the use of online classes.

"JOLT is a local alternative to nonresidential private and online schools," Rings said. "It provides quality online instruction with local teacher touch points."

The Johnstown-Monroe school board, he said, purchased the K12 program that you see advertised on television. After evaluating four major online programs, the district decided on the K12 program and its new PEAK (personalize, engage and achieve with K12) management system. The PEAK program combines the K12+, Aventa learning and Middlebury foreign-language school into one online program.

He said more than 200 classes are offered through the program.

"We want the residents of the Johnstown-Monroe Local School District to have at their convenience local online learning services," Rings said. "We will be offering blended, personalized learning plans that may include a combination of online classes at home and face-to-face classes at school. Students wishing to go online full time will have the opportunity to do so with JOLT."

Students in the program will have access to all Johnstown-Monroe High School classes including art and music.

"They will also be invited to participate in Johnstown's extracurricular programs, including sports, drama, cheerleading, marching band and dances," Rings said.

Students enrolled in the online program would graduate from Johnstown-Monroe High School.

Rings said it's a very exciting time in education, moving from the information age into what is termed the conceptual age.

"The needs of the 21st-century learner are very different from previous generations," he said. "Technology is now a part of the everyday life of a child, from infancy on. Educators need to innovate instruction to meet the needs of children to prepare them to be adults in 2030. Currently, we experience a major technological advancement every six to nine months. That creates the most rapid change society has ever experienced."

With the advent of massive open online classes, Rings said, post-secondary education is available worldwide for little or no cost.

"That means that our children will be competing on a universal stage for employment opportunities," he said. "Prior to the 20th century, our agrarian society expected children to learn good citizenship with basic reading and math skills. During the industrial revolution, the expectation of schools was to train students to be part of the industrial workforce.

"When the Russians launched Sputnik, we reacted with a new emphasis on math and science skills," Rings said. "The development of personal computers and the Internet put information at everyone's fingertips. The focus for the children of today is to teach them how to analyze, conceptualize and create. Technology will be the key to that education."

For more about JOLT, call 740-967-2721, ext. 3250.

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