Vancouver Learning Network Secondary

Vancouver Learning Network Secondary (VLN-S) is a distributed learning program of the Vancouver Board of Education, serving students in British Columbia and, in particular, urban students who ordinarily reside in the Greater Vancouver area. It is currently the largest virtual school program in the province, with approximately 8,000 course registrations annually. VLN-S is centrally located within the host district as well as within the Greater Vancouver region. This has facilitated accessibility for students, who occasionally attend the school to meet with their counselors and teachers, write required course and provincial exams, and participate in an array of optional activities – tutorials, workshops, labs, fitness testing and field trips offered to stimulate interest and engagement as well as fulfill aspects of course learning outcomes.

The secondary program serves grade 8-12 level students who are school age or adults. The majority of VLN-S students are supplemental. These students frequently cite flexibility and choice as their reasons for choosing to take a course at VLN-S. VLN-S also has many students, studying full-time or part-time, who are no longer registered in a neighborhood school. These students choose to complete high school graduation through VLN-S, and often require greater flexibility than a face-to-face is able or willing to provide. From special needs to special circumstances, these students seek a highly individualized educational plan and customized timelines that allow them to work at a pace that meets their needs.

As VLN-S is a twelve month school, students are able to start and finish courses at any time, as well as access their education program from any location they may be, whether in the same building, a few blocks away or on the other side of the globe.

The teaching staff at VLN-S typically doubles in the course of a year, starting with a core group of teachers in September, with new teachers added throughout the year as enrolments continue to rise. Teaching at VLN-S is organizationally demanding. As students start and finish at different times, teachers never have a class of students who are working on the same lesson at the same time. Instruction at VLN-S is largely asynchronous, however, the teachers build core synchronous experiences – both online and face-to-face – that

students may participate in irrespective of where they may be in the course curriculum.

For students, VLN-S offers educational experiences that are aligned with their use of communications and technology. Most students learn of VLN-S by “word of mouth” – in the broad definition, by telling friends in their social networks. After taking one course, many students return for additional courses, as they are drawn to the freedom that is gained in school timetabling and the ability to work at their own pace. Learners are increasingly seeking quality, flexible learning experiences and making more informed choices with respect to their education.