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Colleges may offer online courses for high school students

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Area high school students soon may have the opportunity to take online courses through private colleges for credit.

Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services officials are discussing with upstate and Central New York colleges the possibility of offering high schoolers blended and online courses — which could start as early as this summer.

“What we’re trying to figure out is how a student can walk away with the college’s transcript,” said Dawn D. Ludovici, Jefferson-Lewis BOCES assistant superintendent. “Technology is really the seed that started the conversion. The capability of providing coursework online reduces the proximity problem we have when working with colleges.”

A blended course would incorporate online courses and classroom time, whether at the college or at the student’s high school, Mrs. Ludovici said.

She said online courses sometimes require more discipline than a face-to-face course because students need more motivation to keep up with assignments and due dates, which is where the appeal of blended courses comes in.

The program will be similar to Syracuse University’s Project Advance and Jefferson Community College’s Education Demonstrating Growth and Excellence, but would give students credit on a specific college’s transcript and allow them to take online courses at a possibly reduced tuition rate.

Mrs. Ludovici said the program would be more feasible if the cost of the credits is more affordable than it is for a college student who may be receiving scholarships or grants.

“Of course, it goes back into the fiscal challenges our districts are facing in offering the range of courses more affluent districts do,” she said.

Because the conversations are preliminary, Mrs. Ludovici did not reveal the names of the colleges with which BOCES is in discussion. The conversations with the colleges and universities began in late winter, she said.

Mrs. Ludovici said four component districts now offer courses through Syracuse University, which, like JCC courses, involves an adjunct professor teaching students at their high school.

She said BOCES is approaching private colleges because they have more leeway than state universities do.

A course being considered this summer is an online college-life preparatory class, which Mrs. Ludovici said would be a closely monitored pilot program if it happens.

She said she is hoping that eventually, the classes range from core subjects to specialty courses the colleges may be known for.

“If there would be college credit, it would end up being an elective credit,” Mrs. Ludovici said.

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