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Online Academy enrollment soars

July 24, 2008 : Mitzi Bible

In just one year, Liberty University Online Academy, featuring Christ-centered distance learning for grades 3-12, has gone from 20 students to an expected 300 for this fall.

“Last year at this time we barely even existed,” said Jay Spencer, executive associate for online projects at LU.

The program, which grew out of Liberty University’s award-winning Distance Learning Program, is receiving five to eight applications a day, Spencer said.

“We’ve got a good mix of students coming in this fall. Some of them have been homeschooling, some of them are coming out of Christian schools, and a significant number are coming out of public schools.”

Students are studying from homes all over the U.S. and from as far away as Romania, Italy, Jerusalem and Australia.

Although enrollment is on a rolling basis and students can begin their courses at any time, there is a $500 discount for all students who apply and complete enrollment by July 31. (Click here for more information.)

Spencer said recent updates include a browser-based curriculum, where students will no longer receive CD-ROMs in the mail to install on their home computers.

“Now there’s no software, no CDs, so they can study from any computer — Mac or PC — that has Internet access,” he said.

The curriculum has also been expanded to include more elective courses —from Civil War History and a Vietnam-era course, to Essentials of Communication (a speech class), trigonometry, and an integrated chemistry and physics class.

The new curriculum will also have a communicator system, where students will be able to see if their teacher is available online and instant message them.

Because of the phenomenal growth of the program, eight to 10 teachers are being added by Sept. 1.

Spencer said students benefit from the teacher interaction, which is often more than in a traditional classroom.

“Eighty-five percent of the grading is done by the software, so the teacher spends time not grading (they’re only grading 15 percent), but educating and answering questions,” he said. “It’s even better than raising their hand in a classroom because when a teacher is answering that question, they’re answering only that student’s question, there’s not a whole classroom waiting until they get finished to move on.

They’re all moving at their own pace; they’re all getting the individualized attention they need.”