Taking high school classes on the Internet is an educational innovation that’s becoming more and more popular in Maine schools, and it’s easy to see why.

Signing students up for courses in subjects that may not be available in a given school allows them to join others across the nation and even the world interested in topics that may only attract a single student in any one location.

And it lets teachers who are subject-matter experts in a given field become available to teach students they could never reach in person.

That expansion of expertise enriches the variety of courses available in any location, greatly increasing the value of that institution’s diploma.

This year, 43 Maine schools are participating in the course offerings from Virtual High School Global Consortium, which offers more than 300 courses online, including “peacemaking,” advanced placement statistics, constitutional law, pre-veterinary medicine and environmental science.

Students are responsible for research, homework and exams, and a certified teacher at each school will supervise their work in person.

One of the fascinating aspects of online education is that it allows students to interact with other young people all over the world. The viewpoints that such an opportunity involves can’t help but broaden a young person’s worldview in ways that would cost untold thousands of dollars to experience in person.

In the virtual world, however, international peers are just a mouse click away, an experience that only the most well-off or well-traveled students could have had before the Internet was created.

Older folks remember when the phrase, “a world of possibilities,” was a metaphor meaning “many.”

Now, however, it’s literally true.


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