You can, virtually, get a complete education while sitting in front of your computer. Cyber school (or virtual school) is an educational process that allows individuals to take all, or most of, the required courses for a degree, diploma or certificate online. Although there are many choices of online nonaccredited courses and tutorials, both free and fee based, the term "cyber school" generally refers to an accredited school. This type of school leads students to some type of degree, diploma or certification.

History

As computers and the Internet became more widely used, it was natural that correspondence courses (distance learning) would transform into Internet classes. Accredited educational institutions found that they could offer more classes to more students with a hefty savings to the school. In time, you could get an online degree without ever having to visit, in person, the particular school you were attending. This phenomena spread to lower-level schools, primary and secondary, as well as colleges. A child can now be completely home-schooled through high school, via the Internet. Public schools have learned to take advantage of cyber schools with computer labs, where students can take classes not offered at their particular school.

Significance

Children living in outlying areas, many miles from a public school, can get a first-rate education without the hours of travel it would otherwise take. Adults, with families and jobs, can begin to work toward a degree, or finish one, at their own pace. Cyber school makes education more convenient and, in some cases, possible where it may not have been before. The significance of easier access to education is huge to those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to continue their education toward a degree.

Process

Although the process used to complete classes will differ depending on the cyber school, the basic structure is the same. Teachers are in control of grading and administering four types of assignments. Assessments, the most common type of assignment, are uploaded lessons. The student downloads and completes the assignment using his own word-processing or worksheet program and sends it back by the predetermined date. Worksheets, also quite common, are question-and-answer sheets. They are often in a multiple-choice or true-and-false format. Online discussions are another class process. Exams are the fourth type of class process. Some educational institutions require students to take tests at predetermined locations where someone overlooks and administers the testing, while other schools allow exams to be taken online.

Cost

Some primary and secondary classes are paid for by the state. This varies from state to state. Unless the student has acquired a grant, school loan or other funding, the cost of upper-level courses will be an out-of-pocket expense. Some materials for courses may be offered as free downloads, but there are usually textbooks that must be ordered and paid for by the student.

Warning

Embarking on any type of education takes self-discipline. However, enrolling in cyber school, and completing courses, takes an extra dose of motivation. The student is given more leeway as to when he will complete assignments and, therefore, he must be more responsible. Socialization, through Internet discussion boards, still exists in cyber school, but it occurs less often than in traditional classes.