—This article was contributed by Dr. Adnan Aabed, the director of Hamtramck Public Schools Virtual Learning Institute. It has been edited for style.
COVID-19 brought many changes to the education landscape and now we realize that some of those changes are here to stay. To produce the best learning environments for students across Hamtramck, educators at Hamtramck Public Schools launched our newly developed Virtual Learning Institute (VLI), making high-quality education accessible for any student in any situation.
Hamtramck’s VLI provides advanced and rigorous courses powered by Pearson, a secure certified online curriculum provider. This allows students to get the equivalent amount of learning exposure to that of an in-person class, all from the learning environment in which they feel most comfortable. Classes run similarly to Hamtramck’s traditional in-person format, with the addition of some newly created STEM courses and elective courses in technology, business and heath care.
To continue building meaningful relationships and fostering active participation, students have direct access to their Hamtramck Public Schools virtual teachers, Pearson virtual teachers and classmates through LiveLesson interactive sessions. In addition, students enrolled in the VLI are still eligible to participate in dual-enrollment college courses, extracurricular activities and sports at HPS, as well as having complete access to school counselors and support staff, ensuring a well-rounded education experience for all scholars.
All students in the Hamtramck area and Wayne County in grades kindergarten through 12 can enroll in VLI. To access the program, students register for a full semester, which includes a month of online training. Class attendance is mandatory, just as it would be if a child were in person. In addition to English courses, Arabic, French and Spanish courses are available to students.
Our first year has been a tremendous success. We asked students who have completed one semester at Hamtramck’s VLI to share their experiences.
“Participating in Hamtramck VLI gives me the same flexibility and independence as a university,” one 11th grader shared. “I am able to complete assignments, projects and exams and have full support from my teachers.”
Another reason students are opting to learn through VLI are continuing concerns about the pandemic.
“This way, I felt much more comfortable being close to my loved ones and they felt better with me learning at-home,” a second grader also shared with us.
We understand that there are factors outside our classrooms that impact our students’ ability to learn in person. Our goal with the VLI is to ease those concerns by offering a safe alternative without sacrificing any opportunities to learn. Students will be exposed to an exciting collection of tools and resources, many of which will be useful in their future careers or professional settings.
Online learning also gives students a leg up in higher education, building time management and technology skills early on. Hamtramck Public Schools is dedicated to creating the best educational atmosphere for all students. We believe the VLI is a necessary step forward in providing the best accommodations possible for our families who seek other options for their children.