Follow AAE on:

Subscribe to RSS Feed:

Virtual Education and School Counseling
posted by: Ruthie | November 18, 2013, 08:57 PM   

Virtual schools are not only bringing a whole new element to education, but also to school counseling. Approximately 310,000 students in 30 states now attend “multi-district, fully online” schools, according to one report.  As the field grows, schools are continuing to develop best practices to meet students' academic and socials needs.

"The challenge is to make sure [full-time online schools] are really providing a comprehensive school counseling program to students," said H. Eric Sparks, the assistant director of the American School Counselors Association (ASCA). "It's very much a developing field."

For some students, virtual counseling is preferable to face-to-face counseling. The familiarity of virtual interactions allows students to open up more and communicate honestly with teachers and counselors in a “private” manner. However, challenges concerning how to reach, evaluate, and monitor students who are hundreds of miles away remain an issue.

Cost continues to be one of the main issues. Critics of virtual schools maintain not enough resources are devoted to support services. "We have to be able to compare them to traditional brick-and-mortar schools so policymakers can make good decisions about how we're going to fund these schools," said Gary J. Miron, an education professor at Western Michigan University.

According to a report, the Stanford University Online High School embodies the ideal, online counseling model. The school employs two full-time counselors who focus primarily on students' social and emotional needs and offer help with issues such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders; two academic advisers, who make sure students enroll in the right courses; and two full-time college counselors. Roughly 10% of the school's full-time online students receive short-term virtual counseling from the school's staff, who will refer the students to local professionals for more in-depth treatment when appropriate.

"We realized that full-time online students have the same needs as any adolescent," said Tracy Steele, the school's director of counseling. "So we became more of a school and less a set of online courses."
Similarly, virtual school sites, like the Florida Virtual Schools network, are beginning to offer pages with counselor’s names and pictures. These pages make it easy for students to select a counselor.

As virtual schools continue to evolve, effective counseling practices and methods will follow suit. These unchartered waters provide opportunities for innovation and best practices that best support students’ needs.

How do you think virtual schools should  approach school counseling?

Comment below.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Submit a comment
 (not published)
smaller | bigger

security code
Write the displayed characters