10 Digital Learning Models in Clark County Schools

Clark County School District, fifth largest in the country, educates more than 320,000 students in 356 schools. At a recent Apex Learning seminar Kim Loomis, Innovative Projects Coordinator, outlined 10 of the digital learning models they use in CCSD.

1. Traditional semester calendar-based online courses

Nevada Learning Academy provides 18 week scheduled courses taught by a certified teacher at a distance with exams on specific dates and times. This expansion of Course Access may deploy as virtual lab. It’s an ideal strategy for expanding access to AP, world language, and electives.


2. Single content area virtual lab

In a pinch–like a long term substitute in Spanish class that doesn’t speak Spanish–you can create a virtual lab for that period. It may use the regular 18 week calendar or be open enrollment.

3. Credit recovery virtual lab

Students that need to repeat a course can do it in  a virtual lab during a regular period of the day. The lab can offer multiple courses and is often supervised by a teacher licensed in the content area, with some communication from a distance. Options include onsite tutoring, open enrollment, and various start and end dates.

4. Freshman academy

Many students arrive in high school without the academic skills to succeed. This problem can be addressed with elective or foundation course to fill gaps and provide direct instruction on time management and success skills. It is usually held during a regular period of the day in the computer lab with licensed teacher.

5. Independent study program

For a variety of reasons, some students don’t want to or can’t come to school. Independent study where students work from home can be the right solution. These programs are usually open enrollment, with a licensed teachers at a distance with on-site proctored exams. It may use a limited catalog (e.g., math and English only) and include on-site tutoring options with a teacher.

6. Unit recovery

When a student struggles with or fails a test in traditional face-to-face classroom, the student can be assigned supplemental digital instruction for 2-5 days allowing them to catch up and keep up.

7. Blended classrooms

Traditional face-to-face classroom teachers can add online components for supplemental instruction. Kim said, “Just because it’s courseware you don’t have to use all of it.”

8. Flex Academy

School-within-a-school programs can target specific populations (e.g., under-credited seniors) with core licensed teachers assigned to program. Flex academies may include blended and online classes. Students typically have an Individualized Academic Education Plan.

9. Soft suspension or behavior program

For students removed from general population, content area teachers can create blended alternatives. A licensed coach monitors student work from a distance. A program coach (teacher or support staff) monitors student progress and communicates with content teacher.

10. Summer school and/or summer bridge 

Summer programs may vary from two to six weeks and may have a limited catalog (e.g., math or English only). They are taught by a licensed teacher for each content area and may include on-site tutoring options with teachers
Models vary on attendance (2-6 hours daily), work from home options, and summer practice.
Loomis thinks full time online learners will cap out at something less than 10% of the population. She thinks most students will benefit from blends of both worlds

  • Face-to-face learning offering motivation, personalization, feedback, fluency & listening, relevance, discipline; and
  • Online learning offering mobility, structure, tracking & control, self-study, reduced costs, global reach.

“Where is the human in the equation?” asked Loomis, “that’s what motivates kids.
You can also find Kim’s presentation on District Administrator webinar we did together.
For more check out:

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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