My Tech HighMy Tech High was launched 12 years ago by entrepreneur and educator, Matt Bowman, and it has experienced rapid growth. With the 2020 school shutdowns, My Tech High’s popularity surged, growing 150 percent over 2019 to serve nearly 20,000 students in eight states. Most of the students attend tuition-free, accessing My Tech High through innovative partnerships with charter school networks and some school districts that allow for a more personalized, home-based education for young people ages 5 to 18. It’s been a particularly big hit with military families who move around a lot and value the program’s consistency and customization.
Arizona State University (ASU) Prep DigitalASU Prep Digital is a K-12 virtual charter school network affiliated with Arizona State University that offers a particularly innovative program for high school students across the country. Fully online and self-paced, the ASU Prep Digital high school program is high-touch with regular, live, online check-ins with teachers and mentors. It is fully accredited and students can receive a high school diploma if they choose. They can also enroll as a part-time student, taking a la carte classes to supplement other learning.
A key benefit of ASU Prep Digital is that it allows enrolled students to attend concurrent online classes through Arizona State University, accumulating college credits while still in high school and dramatically reducing the cost of college when those credits are ultimately transferred to a four-year university. Moreover, students who do well academically at ASU Prep Digital automatically meet the admission requirements to attend Arizona State University.
The best news? ASU Prep Digital is tuition-free for Arizona residents and, at just under $7,000 a year, an affordable option for many out-of-state high school students as well. When parents consider that the tuition includes college credits during high school that ultimately defray university costs, it becomes even more appealing.
GalileoGalileo is an online, self-directed learning program for homeschoolers, unschoolers, worldschoolers, and other students who are seeking a bit of structure, access to more classes, and a lot of community. Daily, virtual check-ins with a teacher and small groups of students around the globe offer opportunities for consistent social connection, goal-setting, group presentations, and accountability. Classes are offered throughout the week on a wide range of topics, from history, math, and foreign languages to debate clubs, music clubs, book groups, and entrepreneurship incubators. Tuition plans start at $2,000 per year, or parents can choose a monthly option that allows them to cancel at any time.
Launched in the summer of 2019 by a group of parents, educators, and software developers, Galileo has grown from 20 students in its inaugural group to 159 students this fall in 28 countries. Lizz Quain, a director at Galileo, says that while some of these students likely would have joined Galileo regardless of the pandemic, school shutdowns and remote learning have boosted enrollment.
“Some former public and private school families who were disillusioned with the traditional school system and wanted a change anyway did enroll, are enjoying this new [to them] way of learning, and plan to stick around,” Quain told me in a recent interview. “Some of those parents were so aghast at how their previous schools were handling distance learning, realized that their kids weren’t getting a good education, decided to look for a better online learning environment, and found Galileo.”
Quain believes that the trend toward remote learning was already emerging before 2020 and that parents will continue to seek enriching and effective virtual education models for their children. “The future of online learning was happening pre-pandemic. The pandemic just brought it to the forefront and to the masses,” says Quain. “Unfortunately traditional schools don’t know how to do online learning well. Future-focused and innovative edtech companies such as Galileo are being created to disrupt the traditional education model by truly engaging students, making learning fun again, and allowing for individualized learning, for students to pursue their passions and to create life-long, independent learners.”
Innovative, private online learning providers will continue to emerge and expand, offering more high-quality, low-cost, individualized education options for students and families. As Quain says: “Once students get a taste of the freedom to choose what they want to learn, it’s not the easiest transition to return to a top-down, authoritarian, and institutional learning environment.”