PLATO Learning introduced PLATO Virtual Academy earlier this March to deliver flexible, standards-based courses with certified, online teachers to meet the needs of 21st century learners. The PLATO Virtual Academy will begin helping students with summer school 2012 implementations, with over 50 virtual courses across a wide range of subject areas.

“Our goal is to help schools and districts to improve student achievement. The PLATO Virtual Academy is an important step forward in doing that,” said Jamie Candee, PLATO Learning vice president of product and marketing. “We are here to partner – not compete – with educators to meet the needs of 21st century learners.”

Like all PLATO Learning curriculum, PLATO Virtual Academy courses are aligned to Common Core, state, and national standards. This standards-based program also follows the iNACOL National Standards of Quality for Online Programs, ensuring students receive an exceptional virtual learning experience.

Ryan Hagedorn, senior product manager with PLATO, added, “What really sets the Academy apart is the proven effectiveness of our online courses coupled with our exceptional online teachers and support models. The combination of rigorous courses and highly trained and engaged staff fosters a dynamic and successful learning environment.”

Mark Moffett, the Manager of Brand and Creative Services at PLATO, answered a few questions for Getting Smart on the recent announcement of PLATO Virtual Academy. In the Q&A below, he discusses the ways that the new PLATO Virtual Academy will bring personalized learning to the online learning or blended learning environment.

What does PLATO Virtual Academy offer that’s unique to other online content providers?

PLATO Virtual Academy is more than just content and more than just an online school. PLATO Virtual Academy leverages the combination of our award-winning curriculum, highly qualified and certified teachers, robust delivery platform, and experienced school administration staff to provide an unparalleled student experience. PLATO Virtual Academy offers school districts the resources and flexibility to successfully provide online learning solutions to a wide range of students that would normally never be possible through the district alone or by online content providers.

How will students interact with the content PLATO offers in a new, innovative way?

PLATO Virtual Academy changes how students interact with content but more importantly, the Academy enables students to interact with the content in whatever way they prefer – even as those preferences are constantly evolving. With the Academy, students are able to drive and control their own learning experience by allowing them to control when they work, where they work, and at what pace they work. Students will experience a level of engagement and one-on-one connection to their teacher that would never be possible in a traditional setting where there are 20-30 students per class. As a result, students are interacting with the content differently and experiencing educational synergies and engagement along the way.

How will PLATO’s platform help educators personalize learning into digital playlists for each student?

PLATO believes in supporting districts and educators by providing the most innovative, flexible and robust tools on the market. The PLATO Learning Environment provides educators with the ultimate level of customization and flexibility to potentially provide playlists as well as other personalized learning solutions.

How will PLATO’s tools help educators identify where each student needs individual help?

PLATO Virtual Academy will enable districts and schools to use our complete assessment library to assess everything from an understanding of basic learning building blocks to progress relative to state standardized test requirements. Each student is prescribed a customized learning path based on the assessment results to get that student on track and achieve the desired educational outcomes.

What is PLATO’s vision for the future?

PLATO Learning will continue to be a leading provider of high-value, comprehensive education technology solutions with a focus on learner achievement leading to academic and career success. With more than 50 years of experience driving significant advances in the industry, PLATO offers a wide variety of innovative solutions spanning a multitude of program areas to facilitate 21st century teaching and learning. We will continue to partner with districts, schools, and educators to improve learner achievement.

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