Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has announced the creation of the Nebraska Virtual Partnership, which includes plans for the creation of the Nebraska Virtual School and Nebraska Virtual Library System to bring high-quality educational offerings to more of the state's students.
The Virtual School will, in Heineman's words, "provide Nebraska students a rigorous online high school curriculum with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathâ¦ and Advanced Placement courses in both rural an urban areas."
The Partnership brings together the Department of Education, the Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council, the University of Nebraska and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) to construct the Nebraska Virtual School.
The Independent Study High School through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln already serves more than 300 Nebraska students in addition to students from 135 countries. The Virtual Scholars program will offer an additional 50 free course enrollments to Nebraska high schools on a competitive basis.
Nebraska joins states such as Florida in aggressive efforts to offer virtual, online education to its K-12 students at the state level. The Independent Study High School requires that students have a 56k modem (though they recommend high-speed access), Internet Explorer 6.0 or newer/Firefox 3.0 or newer, a word processing program and e-mail – a relatively low bar for access and cost in 2011.
The McCook Daily Gazette editorializes that the Nebraska Virtual School "makes sense for a state like Nebraska" with an "abundance of miles and shortage of people," but opines that "nothing can replace face-to-face interaction."
The Virtual Scholars Program will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and targets students in underserved or rural districts.