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A Stable Education

Ed Outreach lands big contract for teaching military teens.
Business and Community  |  Feb 9, 2010  |  By University Communications

If you think moving to a new town and attending a new high school is difficult, imagine doing it five or six times. This is often the case for many high school kids in military families.

To make the transition easier, UNLV is teaming with the Department of Defense Education Activity Agency (DoDEA) to create the Virtual High School curriculum for the agency's more than 95,000 students. DoDEA serves children of active armed forces members and civilians stationed at military bases all over the world.

As part of a $6.2 million contract from the DoDEA, the UNLV Division of Educational Outreach is designing courses to meet the unique needs of these students, who often change schools or whose parents are stationed at a base without access to traditional schools.

Easing the Transition

This year UNLV will develop 33 interactive courses - a complete and accredited online high school curriculum - to supplement the existing DoDEA curriculum. The project will be fully compatible with in-person teaching plans and will ease the transition for students who move.

The courses are developed in collaboration with UNLV faculty and DoDEA administrators and are divided into a series of interactive lessons, each capable of functioning as a standalone unit. Each course bolsters traditional, in-person lessons by incorporating such elements as:

  • Group problem-solving activities
  • Simulations
  • Strategic use of student-generated content
  • Exploratory learning
  • Streaming lectures

The courses encourage students to draw on material from multiple disciplines and can be adapted to current world themes.

Serving Students' Individual Needs

The contract also carries a four-year, $4.4 million option for a second phase, during which UNLV's team of distance education staff and faculty researchers will develop additional courses and a comprehensive series of teacher, course, and program resource manuals. The team will create professional development programs for DoDEA instructors that correspond with the Virtual High School curriculum, allowing instructors to adapt courses to suit students' individual needs.

The Virtual High School curriculum will meet all DoDEA standards, requirements, and technical guidelines and will be ready for implementation by fall 2010. The project is a collaborative effort between the DoDEA, the Division of Educational Outreach, the Center for Distance Education, and the College of Education.

UNLV's Center for Distance Education currently serves more than 26,000 students annually in Nevada and abroad. The center designs hundreds of online courses each year in its advanced digital production and animation lab and boasts one of the largest university-based collections of online learning software.