Using a student-centered learning model, VLACS gives students the opportunity to customize their learning experience in a way that best meets their needs, in a setting that engages their interests, talents, and passions.
Our personalized and flexible approach to learning provides students with the flexibility and direction they need to be engaged and successful learners. The VLACS learning model is based on a student-centered learning approach that puts students in charge of customizing their learning to best meet their needs. Student-centered learning is based on four key components: personalization, competency-based learning, anytime and anywhere learning, and ownership.
1. Learning is Personalized
Traditional courses are not the only way to learn at VLACS. At VLACS, students can create personalized learning plans by blending courses, projects, experiences, or team based work in an almost limitless number of combinations. For example, students can master competencies by completing a project, or through experience by having an internship. Students can create their own competency group (aka course credit) and learn through a combination of any of the following:
To earn a credit for US History, a student must master 8 competencies.
A student may wish to master 2 of the competencies through an experience (e.g., internship), 2 competencies through projects and 4 competencies through a traditional course. The competencies are then bundled together as a credit in U.S. History.
2. Learning is Competency-Based
Competencies are the building blocks of student-centered learning. At VLACS, all courses, projects, experiences, and team activities are connected to competencies. Competencies are the “big ideas” that every student is expected to master. A traditional one-credit course is comprised of about eight different competencies. Students can master competencies by choosing a single learning path such as courses, projects, teams, or experiences — or they may blend these options together.
We know that students learn at different rates depending on their level of engagement, life experiences, or talents. In a competency-based learning environment, expectations are held constant while time is a variable. This means that a student might master one competency at a faster rate than his/her peers but require more time and support than his/her peers to master the next competency. In a competency-based system, success is defined by meeting high expectations and not by how quickly a student can learn; failure is not an option.
3. Learn Anytime, Anywhere
VLACS students can use digital or online tools to learn from any location at any time of day. Anytime, anywhere also means that VLACS students can expand their universe of learning to include “real-world” experiences such as internships, projects, travel, and more! We want our students to see the world as their classroom so that they can engage in learning that nurtures their interests, talents, and passions.
4. Students Take Ownership
At VLACS, students take ownership of their learning by deciding where, when, and how they want to learn. This customized approach helps students become excited about learning and engages them in the deep thinking and hard work that follows.
Taken together, these four tenets of student-centered learning provide students with an unlimited number of learning paths and redefine what it means to go to school. Read on to learn more details about each of our learning pathways.