Online high school enrollment swells

The University’s online high school enrolled 76 students this semester, a dramatic increase compared to its inaugural class of 16 last spring.

Barbara Brueggemann, head of the online school targeted at high-achieving students, said the students expected to start class Tuesday are from “all over the world and the states.”

“They’re learning and building communities from their respective homes,” she said.

GW is the second college in the nation to oversee a virtual secondary school for the college-bound. The University also partners with the School Without Walls, offering high school students the ability to take college courses.

The George Washington University Online High School launched in January with a deliberately small entering class as a way to test operations before going through its accreditation process, which began in June. Representatives from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools will visit the school this fall, with the goal of receiving accreditation in the spring.

In a partnership with K12, Inc. – a Herndon, Va.-based company that specializes in online learning – the Graduate School of Education and Human Development is developing a research agenda focused on online education.

“We’ve met a number of times with representatives at K12 to understand what data we can use and to talk about the different kinds of research topics we’re interested in pursuing,” Robert Ianacone, associate dean of GSEHD, said.

An institute at GW based around the research conducted through the high school is also in the works, which Ianacone said will be “a vehicle for us to attract funding in our research efforts.”

The partnership with K12 allows the revenue the University receives from the school to be invested into on-campus research focused on online learning. University spokeswoman Courtney Bowe declined to provide revenue estimates.

Students in the graduate education program may also be able to obtain internships with the high school.

In turn, GW provides graduate coursework for teachers within the high school, as well as the ability to participate in the Educational Technology Leadership Program – an entirely online master’s and certificate program that has been in place at GW for 15 years.

Many of the students are involved in athletic teams, musical groups, theater and other organizations. One applicant for the fall semester had a major acting role on the popular medical drama “House.”

Over the summer, last semester’s class of students gathered on the Mount Vernon Campus to participate in outdoor activities and to take a pre-college program with a professor. This year, the school may bring students together in a service project, such as Habitat for Humanity.

“They’re very active in their own communities, as well as with their classmates,” Brueggmann said. “It’s very diverse and high-achieving, and we want to provide them with the opportunity to build a learning community.”

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