FAQs – Student Life
These questions are focused on the daily life of a distance education student.
If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, you can find additional FAQs on these pages:
- FAQs – Course options, exams, and withdrawal
- FAQs – Registration and payment
- FAQs – Adult students
- FAQs – Education services agreements
Can Vista Virtual School students work at an accelerated pace?
When students enrol full time with Vista Virtual School, they work with an academic counsellor to establish the appropriate program.
Teachers will set a pace for instruction similar to what might be expected at a typical school. However, because students can vary the pace at which they work on assignments, some students move quickly through learning outcomes.
Decisions to accelerate learning beyond the normal grade level for a student’s age are made collaboratively and in consideration of individual circumstances.
What does support from parents look like?
Students who have the most success with distance learning have dedicated space and time to do their work.
Parents/guardians usually set students up and then support their ongoing learning through ongoing conversations similar to those that might occur at the end of any other student’s day at school.
Do Vista Virtual School teachers work together?
Yes. Our teachers work closely to support each other and to continuously collaborate in order to improve the content of their online courses.
Like other schools, teachers collaborate to support shared students and their families.
What are the courses like? Is there a lot of reading and answering questions?
Learning in any environment requires reading and writing, and learning at a distance is no different.
VVS teachers use course content that has been expertly developed specifically for delivery at a distance.
Courses contain interactive material and videos as well as opportunities to have teacher-moderated communication with other students.
How do Vista Virtual students get feedback from their teachers?
The main way that teachers interact with students is through the course content. Teachers provide various types of instruction, depending on the course and grade level.
Students then work on various types of assignments. Students submit assignments digitally. Some course work is entirely digital.
Other assignments are written and scanned and then sent back to the teacher. Sometimes students produce recordings, videos, or photographs of the physical products they create.
Teachers contact students frequently through email, virtual face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and text messages. VVS teacher feedback is significantly more individualized than in regular school settings, especially at the upper grades.
Students get specific feedback about their responses to questions with guidance and tutorials to take them step by step through difficult concepts.
Isn’t it really easy for students to get their answers from Google?
Vista Virtual School teachers are experts in online learning and are very aware of when students’ work may not be their own. Teachers use tools to assess the authenticity of student’s work.
Many assignments are designed to make students submit their work in stages so that teachers can monitor the development and thereby authenticate the work.
How do students perform laboratory experiments in a distance learning school?
Students complete lab experiments virtually. This means they complete interactive simulated labs online, review step-by-step photos, or watch videos of experiments being completed.
They can also complete information from experiment plans and photos or complete written laboratory assignments based on the learning concepts.
Usually, there is an opportunity to attend a full-day lab (for some courses) later in the school year. Teachers can provide more information on this.
How do students take physical education in a distance learning school?
The physical education curriculum requires that students participate in various activities across five dimensions:
- Alternate environments (outdoor activities)
- Individual activities
Students complete a minimum five hours in one or two activities of their choosing in each dimension. Students are required to submit photos or video showing participation in these activities, as well as submit a completed supervisor declaration for each activity dimension and a monthly log.
Supervision is required for all activity hours earned. Activities must be supervised by a person over the age of 18 who has considerable experience in the activity.
Some activities can be supervised through the use of fitness tracking apps (e.g. hiking, walking, outdoor cycling, outdoor running). Only 5-7 hours can be supervised by family members. All other supervision requests must be approved by the teacher.
PE 10 requires a CPR/heart saving course, offered twice a year by VVS. PE 20 and 30 has a 10 hour volunteer commitment promoting physical activity.
*Due to recent changes in supervision options, guardian supervision will be accepted for all dimensions. For grade 10 students, the CPR requirement will be excluded.
Register for physical education online here.
When you get to the course selection page of the application, you can find Physical Education 10/20/30 under the subject/department “Senior High Personal Development”.
Can I get any in-person help?
Under normal circumstances, VVS teachers and academic counsellors based in the Calgary area are able to meet with students in person at the Calgary campus. However, due to COVID-19, all meetings with teachers and academic counsellors are being held online until further notice.
Teachers and academic counsellors are available Monday to Friday from either 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. via telephone or text message, email, Zoom, or Google Hangouts.
Under normal circumstances our academic counsellors and teachers also make regular visits to communities across Alberta, allowing students to meet with teachers, write supervised exams, and return textbooks. Such visits have been discontinued for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19.
To find out your teacher or academic counsellor’s contact information, please visit our staff page.
Do students have a spring or fall break?
Vista Virtual School courses operate year-round through distance learning, so there is no officially designated spring or fall break. Our campus is closed for winter break and statutory holidays.