Since its inception, one of the benefits to using the Tennessee Virtual Academy to educate your students has been its convenience. School didn’t have to take place during traditional hours. When doctor’s appointments, or family responsibilities, or other activities took place during regular school hours, it wasn’t a problem; school could be accomplished (for the most part) on the road, and anything that actually required the computer and an internet connection (or undivided attention) could be done during off-hours. It didn’t matter if you couldn’t be in front of the computer during the “right” hours; there were still regular conversations with teachers, lessons that were well laid-out and easy to complete, and a full curriculum. Class connect sessions were recorded, and if you couldn’t make it to them when they were scheduled, you could always listen to a recording later.
Thanks to a new policy for elementary school students in particular, class connect sessions must now be attended during the session itself for credit. No listening to a recording later. No attendance means no credit—and for some students, this is a serious mistake. Certainly, the policy has been put into place for very good reason. Elementary school teachers are being encouraged to use more activity-based lessons, which require active student participation. Recordings are not conducive to these types of lessons, nor is the software used by the virtual academy capable of properly recording the “break-out sessions” that allow students to gather in small groups within the larger classroom session. These are positive educational changes that will permit students to become much more actively involved in their lessons than was possible with the earlier lecture format. On the other hand, there are several reasons why forcing students to attend the session on time in order to acquire their grade will be impractical or even impossible for many students. See the list for details.