As a parent of a busy teen, you want flexibility in your schedule and affordable courses so that you and your student can live the life you want to live. Williamsburg Learning’s self-paced courses are designed with these things in mind.
Before building our self-paced courses, we closely reviewed courses from six leading online curriculum providers. We looked for courses that include:
- Transformational learning experiences for students
- High-quality content and engaging readings
- Charismatic human personality driving the course and content
- Connection and collaboration between course participants
We found some excellent self-paced elective courses that we now offer but concluded we needed to build our own Leadership, Social Studies, and Language Arts courses. These courses are built around high-quality, pared-down recordings from our live courses.
You can view specific middle school and high school course descriptions on the Williamsburg Learning website. To see if a course is offered in the self-paced format, navigate to the course your student is interested in and view the Course Details. Look for “self-paced” under “Format.”
What Makes Our Courses Unique in the Industry
Criteria Our Experience Reviewing Other Courses How We Solve the Problem(s) In Our Courses
Transformational Learning Experiences, Not Check-The-Box Most online courses we reviewed focused on what to think, rather than how to think. The guiding principle of many courses seemed to be fulfilling state standards rather than transforming the minds and hearts of course participants.
High-Quality Content And Engaging Readings Most online courses we reviewed were essentially online, interactive textbooks with multiple pages of text and occasional matching or multiple-choice activities. Most assignments felt like busy work. Our self-paced courses are more than an online textbook. They engage students through the use of video, text, and meaningful assignments.
Charismatic Human Personality Driving The Course Most online courses in the industry lack human personality. In fact it seemed to us that the designers of many courses worked very hard to remove any human personality that surfaced from the course designers, creating courses that feel very professional and rather sterile. Most courses revolve around long passages of text, with only occasional activities or videos. The few courses that used a human personality in video throughout the course tended towards a presenter with a very formal tone and vibe rather than the authentic, mentorial vibe we prefer. Our courses are built around edited and condensed video recordings of live classes. These classes are led by mentors who were selected for their role because they are inspiring and encouraging, charismatic and caring. The videos we use are therefore infused with the personality and humanity of the mentor and our students, and nearly every lesson includes video content.
Authentic and Meaningful Connection Most online courses we reviewed had zero or very few opportunities for students to engage and connect with other students in the course. Students interacted almost exclusively with automatically generated and graded assignments. This made the courses feel two-dimensional and monotonous. We utilize the best educational technology to create multiple opportunities for student connection.
Our class videos are delivered using Arc, an innovative program that allows students to interact with each other and mentors while watching the videos using a chat feature.
Students also engage in meaningful and ongoing discussions in the courses. For example, in the discussion below, students share epiphanies they have from the readings and lessons with each other.
Caring mentors are actively involved in the Arc and assignment discussions and can be accessed for personal help via weekly office hours.