SD73 study says personal contact would be @KOOL

The @KOOL graduation program provides courses to students in grades 10 to 12

By Dale Bass

Kamloops This Week

If there’s one word to describe the school district’s distance-learning model completion rates, it’s unsatisfactory.

Kamloops-Thompson school district Supt. Karl deBruijn told trustees last week the rate is 25 per cent in the distance-learning programming offered through its @KOOL school, compared to 86 per cent in the traditional school model.

DeBruijn’s report flows from a focus group of principals, along with Dean Coder, the school district’s dean of international programs, that has looked at the data, studied similar programs in the province and started work on a hybrid model locally.

Among the recommendations taken to trustees were embedding distance-learning teachers in secondary schools and creating a space to support online learning.

The @KOOL graduation program provides courses to students in grades 10 to 12. During the 2012-2013 school year, there were 220 full-time equivalent students in the program — although data shows most students are taking a few subjects to complete their course of studies for graduation.

Most study through the @KOOL school in the former Pineridge elementary building in Sahali. For the Planning 10 compulsory course, teachers are embedded in schools. For adult distance-learning, the program operates out of Northills Shopping Centre in North Kamloops.

Trustees were told similar programs in Richmond and North Vancouver have better completion rates.

In each, teachers are embedded in secondary schools and distance learning is only part of their teaching requirements. Teachers in the two districts said one of the reasons they have higher completion rates is because they have personal contact with their students.

Other recommendations from the study include moving the junior-secondary @KOOL component to the Twin Rivers Education Centre on the North Shore to provide more access to behavioural supports, relocate the elementary component into elementary schools, keep the Northills site for adult learners, restructure courses to emphasize personal contact between teachers and students when possible and ensure all students in distance learning’s graduation program meet with a school counsellor to develop a plan to meet the requirements for a Dogwood certificate.

The report shows revenue generated through distance learning is $2.6 million.