This evening I spent some time looking over course titles and descriptions offered by the Oklahoma City Public Schools Virtual Academy. My 9th grade son is interested in possibly taking a technology course online in lieu of the mandatory face-to-face technology course offered at his school, Classen School of Advanced Studies. Course descriptions by grade level are listed in PDF files linked on the iOKCPS website. The following are computer/technology courses offered for high school students. I was disappointed to see none of the web design courses include/address content management systems like WordPress.

AP Computer Science A F
AP Computer Science B S
Business Keyboarding
Business Systems Technology
Emergent Computer Technology
Engineering Design I
Game Design
HS Digital Arts I
Introduction to Computers
and Applications A
Introduction to Computers
and Applications B
Programming I: VB.NET
Programming II: Java
Web Design I A
Web Design I B
3D Art I – Modeling

The course descriptions for these are listed on the Connections Academy website. The three courses which sound the best for Alexander based on his interests and his digital literacy level (which is pretty high, IMHO) are the following:

Engineering Design I

In this introductory course you will learn computer-aided design skills necessary for a career in engineering. To this end, you will learn the basics of using CAD software to draw engineering plans and diagrams. Using CAD, you will become familiar with creating points, lines, geometric forms, drawings, and 3-D models. As you learn these basics, you’ll gain the foundation that you need to translate abstract concepts into functional designs, a core engineering skill. During this course, you will create a diverse portfolio of projects that include orthographic projections, sectional views of 3-D objects, isometric drawings, and 3-D walkthroughs. Through these projects, you’ll develop the skills you need to design and create CAD projects of your own.

Game Design

This course is for anyone who loves gaming and wants to design games. You’ll learn how to use popular game design software to create engaging, interactive games in a variety of genres. In addition, you’ll get a solid foundation in the basic concepts of game development. By the end of this course, you will have a variety of polished games for your game development portfolio.

HS Digital Arts I

In this course you will become familiar with basic concepts essentially to visual and digital art, such as line, shape, form, color, value, space, and texture. Using Inkscape, a free open-source program, you will also develop core artistic skills through the creation of original digital art. You will have the opportunity to express yourself as well through a course-long art project that involves the creation of a still life scene.

We’re going to find out if he can take one of these courses and receive credit for the required technology course he has to take. I visited before winter break with another ClassenSAS student, who took an English class last term online with Connections Academy / iOKCPS, and he told me students in the program do NOT receive a grade: Just credit under a pass/fail system. I’m hoping to interview him next week for an audio podcast. It sounds like the largely non-interactive format of Connections Academy courses has its pluses and minuses, like anything else. It will be interesting to see what Alexander can take and what his actual experiences in one of the online courses is.

If you’re an OKCPS student or a parent of an OKCPS student, definitely check out what iOKCPS has to offer. You do NOT have to enroll online full-time, and all the courses are FREE to take. The district doesn’t provide any technology for you to use in your course, however, all of that must be parent supplied from what I understand. I’m not sure if any OKCPS schools provide release time or work time in student schedules to work on an online class during school hours. That’s a question I hope to have answered as we meet with counselors and go through the application process.

The “Priority Enrollment Due Date” for fall 2013 classes in iOKCPS is February 8th.

This is a bit ironic:

The iOKCPS Enrollment application is a 5-page document. The enrollment application cannot be completed online. It must be printed and completed by hand.

As I scanned the iOKCPS application information tonight, it looked like only enrollment for full-time virtual students was addressed. Information was not available about students who simply want to take one or two courses as replacements for or supplements to F2F courses offered at their OKCPS school. This will be something else interesting to learning more about as we move forward in this process. I know this is possible, because I’ve visited with a student who did it (took one supplementary online course through iOKCPS) last term.

Have you had experiences as a student or parent with Connections Academy online courses or other online courses offered by / through your school district? If so I’d love to hear about them.

'MacBook Pro Keyboard' photo (c) 2007, Corey Fariello - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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  • Jason Neiffer

    I would be honestly surprised if any online or face-to-face course acknowledged content management systems, like WordPress, in a basic (or even more advanced) web design class. I am teaching a “digital publishing” class at Carroll College in Helena this spring and did a syllabus review of other college level institutions in the fall and there wasn’t any reference to it in what I was able to find. We will be covering WordPress and Joomla in my course…

  • http://www.speedofcreativity.org Wesley Fryer

    Why do you think CMS’s aren’t covered/addressed/taught in online classes? I was thinking we were/are just ‘behind’ on this in Oklahoma… is this nationwide?

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