TAMPA – When Cindy Seitel’s 17-year-old son was considering taking a photography course through Florida Virtual School, it piqued her interest.
The 40-year-old Tallahassee mom, who owns a photography business with her husband, is always interested in learning more about the business.
So Seitel was pleased to learn that starting in January, after 16 years of providing a distance-learning option to students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the virtual school will begin offering several courses for adults.
“I’m sure we’ll most likely jump in and take a few courses,” she said. “We’re never too old to learn.”
Florida Virtual School, the nation’s largest state-run online K-12 school district, served more than 200,000 students statewide last school year. Technically a public school, it offers courses free to students.
It launched its new Community Learning Program this week, featuring courses for adults 18 and older in photography, social media and parenting.
The classes will be taught by certified Florida Virtual School instructors in weekly live sessions. An eight-week course costs $90. Revenue from the online courses for adults will go toward research and development on new courses for students, both K-12 and adult.
So far, no one has signed up for the adult classes because registration opened just this week, Florida Virtual School spokeswoman Tania Clow said.
CEO and President Julie Young said the decision was made to offer online classes to adults after parents of virtual school students, like Seitel, showed interest.
“Adults were asking for it,” Young said. “Over the years, we have parents who say they actually took the courses alongside their student. This really does provide an opportunity for people of all ages to go through these courses, whether (with) their student, grandchild or by themselves.”
The material will be similar to what is offered in high school virtual classes, but adult learners will face no assessments or grades and instructors will tweak their teaching approaches to accommodate adult learners. Additionally, the live sessions that K-12 students tune into are optional for adults.
Young said the classes are not meant to compete with adult education centers.
“These are truly put out there for people interested in these topics,” she said. “The nice thing is, just like our students who can work at any time and at their pace, our adult learners can also work on their own schedule.”
If the first round of classes is successful and drums up enough enrollment, course offerings will be expanded, Young said.
“We’re hoping over the holidays, we’ll see some enrollment,” she said. “Depending on what kind of requests we may get, we’ll expand from there.”
In addition to the photography class, Seitel said she would be interested in enrolling with her husband in a social media course.
“That helps parents understand the world our children are in because it is so different from when we grew up,” she said. “It’s a shame if we don’t take advantage of it.”
Adults 18 and older can register for online classes by visiting http://www.spectrumlearn.com/.