New Nebraska Virtual Partnership will increase online learning opportunities for students
Chris Danford New Nebraska Virtual Partnership will increase online learning opportunities for students.
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken has joined Gov. Dave Heineman and other state leaders to announce a new partnership focused on building more online learning opportunities for students throughout the state.

The Nebraska Virtual Partnership is between the University, Nebraska Department of Education, Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council, and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications. The partners signed a Memorandum of Agreement pledging to collaborate to achieve the Governor’s vision for a Virtual High School in Nebraska.

“This is a significant step forward for the future of education in Nebraska,” Gov. Heineman said. “The Virtual School will provide Nebraska students a rigorous online high school curriculum with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, commonly referred to as STEM courses, and Advanced Placement courses in both rural and urban areas. Additionally, the Virtual School establishes a single, centralized website informing students, parents, teachers and schools of virtual learning opportunities in Nebraska.”

NU’s Virtual Scholars pilot program

To help kick off the Nebraska Virtual Partnership, Milliken announced the launch of the NU Virtual Scholars pilot program, which will extend the benefits of high-quality online learning to more students in Nebraska. NU's Virtual Scholars pilot program

Through the Virtual Scholars program, the Independent Study High School at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will offer 50 free course enrollments to high schools across Nebraska on a competitive application basis. A school may apply for one course enrollment for one student or multiple enrollments for multiple students. Applications may be for fall 2011 or spring 2012. Schools may apply beginning Aug. 15, 2011, by accessing the application on the Independent Study High School’s website, highschool.unl.edu. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 2, 2011.

Schools may apply for any of the approximately 100 core, Advanced Placement and elective courses offered by the Independent Study High School. All applications will be considered, with priority given to proposals:
  • For courses in STEM fields.
  • For a student who is a first-time user of Independent Study High School courses.
  • From schools located in a rural area or serving a high number of traditionally under-represented students.
  • That extend the curriculum offerings of a school.
  • From schools that also propose on-site staff support.
All accredited high schools in Nebraska may apply. Academic credit will be issued by the Independent Study High School and will be transferred to the school upon successful completion of the course.

‘A true partnership’

“The Nebraska Virtual High School will be an important part of providing educational opportunities to students across Nebraska, and the University is very pleased to join Governor Heineman in this initiative,” Milliken said. “We look forward to working with our partners, leveraging the successful record of UNL’s Independent Study High School as well as other state resources to increase access to science and math curriculum, Advanced Placement courses and other opportunities all Nebraska students should enjoy.

“This represents a true partnership among educational and political leadership in Nebraska and the beneficiaries will be our high school students.”

Milliken said the Virtual Scholars program and other initiatives like it that will emerge from the new Virtual Partnership will expand access to education to more students, better prepare them for college, support the work of local schools, and ultimately grow the innovation economy in Nebraska. For example, another component of the partnership is a Nebraska Virtual Library through which NET will make multi-media and digital instructional resources available to students and teachers across the state.

Milliken thanked the Governor for his leadership and commitment to increasing educational attainment in Nebraska, and also recognized Sen. Greg Adams, Education Commissioner Roger Breed, and other co-chairs of the P-16 Initiative whose leadership has been key to Nebraska’s progress in education.

UNL’s Independent Study High School

Fully accredited by state, national and international agencies, the Independent Study High School was founded in 1929 with the vision that all students should have access to a high-quality education regardless of their geographic location. The school now serves more than 300 Nebraska students, as well as more than 2,200 students worldwide in a flexible, asynchronous environment.

ISHS fills a critical gap in education in Nebraska, for schools unable to provide AP courses or certain high-level math or science courses, or whose students have conflicts with their schedules. The university hopes to grow enrollment in ISHS in part by introducing more schools to the program through the Virtual Scholars initiative.
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