Are you wondering if distance education is right for your child—or yourself? We’ve listed some of the most common questions we get from parents and prospective students who are new to distance learning.
If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, you can find additional FAQs on these pages:
- FAQs – Student life
- FAQs – Course options, exams and withdrawal
- FAQs – Registration and payment
- FAQs – Adult students
How is learning through VVS different from learning at home during COVID-19?
COVID-19 has had a lot less impact impact on VVS than it has on traditional schools.
The pandemic required that teachers across the province adapt their instruction to support students learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, while forcing the province to reduce its learning expectations.
We have been in operation as a distance learning school since 1996. 24 years of experience has helped us to refine structures and processes that address many concerns related to learning at a distance.
The school has demonstrated success in monitoring and maintaining the integrity of student work, establishing personal connections between students and teachers, and developing highly effective formative assessments and feedback systems.
What is the difference between homeschooling and distance learning?
Distance learning allows students who are Alberta residents to complete their education at home or on the go while being supported by their parent/guardian.
This form of instruction follows Alberta Education learning and is directed by an accredited teacher. The teacher sets up the course schedule and guidelines for completion either online or in print modules (for elementary/junior high), and provides feedback, evaluation, and direction on exams and assignments.
The role of the parent/guardian is to act as a tutor or otherwise assist with learning, monitor schedules, and ensure that timelines and deadlines are met.
Homeschooling, as defined by Alberta Education, allows parents to directly teach their child most or all aspects of their education.
The parent/guardian can follow Alberta curriculum guidelines, or they can establish their own home education outcomes in consultation with school staff who are not accredited by Alberta Education.
In a homeschooling environment, the parent/guardian is responsible for all aspects of their child’s education.
How is VVS similar to a traditional classroom setting for full-time students?
Students need to enrol in compulsory core courses (Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies) at each grade level.
Our goal is to have students complete courses by the end of the school year for both the elementary and junior high programs, and by the end of each semester in the high school program.
Teachers are always ready to help and expect that students will ask for assistance regarding coursework and assignments.
Coursework is done on one unit of study at a time in each course, with students submitting completed work regularly for evaluation by the teacher or marker.
Assignments are typically completed sequentially so that knowledge gained in one assignment helps with the next.
Students are given feedback by the teacher or marker with the expectation they will follow suggestions to improve in subsequent assignments.
Final marks are based on assignments, quizzes, and supervised exams. VVS students receive monthly mini-reports and a final report card each school year.
What is Vista Virtual School? Is it accredited?
We are a public school within Pembina Hills School Division that offers distance learning for grade 1-12 students across Alberta. We are fully accredited by Alberta Education.
All high school courses taken with VVS appear on your Alberta Transcript of High School Achievement and in your myPass account.
How many courses do you offer?
We offer over 300 courses in the elementary, junior high, and senior high levels. Please visit our course catalogue for more information.
Do you have scheduled classes?
Our students do not have a timetable like they would at a traditional school. Teachers offer a suggested timeline for completion at the outset of each course.
Teachers are available during typical business hours and frequently schedule virtual face-to-face meetings with students.
Many students and families appreciate the opportunity to set their own schedules.
I’m a working parent and don’t have time to be a teacher too. Who provides the instruction?
Unlike true homeschooling, our students have teachers assigned to them to provide the instruction. The amount of support provided by parents/guardians varies according to the student’s needs.
Parents of students in elementary grades will need to provide greater support than those of older students.
Most junior and senior high school students can move through their courses independently.
Are there parent-teacher interviews?
Yes. We schedule student-parent-teacher (SPT) interviews several times during the school year. In the past we have held these sessions at facilities in various locations across the province; however, since COVID-19 began all meetings have been online.
These meetings are great opportunities for students and parents to meet with teachers and sometimes other classmates.
Do you offer extracurricular programs?
We do not have traditional school sports teams or clubs. Most families choose to register their children with community programs to fill this need.
Our teachers do offer field trips and excursions. Participation in these is voluntary but encouraged.
How do your students perform academically compared to other students in the province?
The rates at which our students achieve the Acceptable Standard and the Standard of Excellence on Provincial Diploma Exams meet or exceed the provincial averages.
Our experienced teachers have developed very efficient, individualized exam preparation processes.
What are the technology requirements for a distance learning course at VVS?
This document outlines the technology requirements for students planning to access distance learning courses, which include:
- A reliable computer
- Software as required for specific courses
- A reliable Internet connection
- Email access
- Phone access