Construction underway for "virtual learning center" at Adair Co. High; superintendent: goal is a university-type atmosphere for students can study or take online courses

Adair Progress, Columbia, July 28, 2016

Virtual Learning Center presents Unique Opportunity to Students
By Wes Feese

Students at Adair County High School will be given an unusual and innovative option this year when it comes to taking college courses online.

Construction on the school’s virtual learning academy — located in the school’s basement, in a room previously used for storage — began this week, and will provide a comfortable and laid back atmosphere for students to study or attend online classes. The plan was inspired by coffee shops and college lounges, and will feature soft chairs, stools, tables, desks, and a plethora of technology.

“This is a vision that came directly from the high school,” Supt. Alan Reed says. I said, ‘Let’s do stuff different,” and this is what they came up with, totally their idea. “I was sold on it in five minutes.”

Thanks to the district board’s dedicated investment in students’ access to technology over the past few years, the cost for the center is minimal, since most necessary equipment had already been purchased. The learning center will also provide online learning opportunities for students that might not have internet access at home.

“The goal is to create a university-type atmosphere right here on our campus,” Reed said. “We are already partnering with eight or nine colleges that are part of Indiana University, so this is just another way to integrate those opportunities for college credit into our district.”

In order to make the new virtual learning center more prominent within the school, and staying in line with the coffee shop theme, a portion of the room’s concrete wall, stretching more than 10 feet, was cut out this week, and glass panels, mimicking those of a storefront, will soon be installed.

“If you don’t have that, it would be invisible from the hallway,” Reed explains.

While the primary beneficiaries of the new project will undoubtedly be the school’s students, Reed says he’s receptive to the possibility of opening the center to the community after school lets out in the afternoon.

With plans to have the center up and running by the first day of school, on Aug. 11, the consensus expectation is that it will be an immediate hit with students.

“This has the ‘cool’ factor,” Reed says. “It’s totally different from a traditional classroom.”

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