Digital learning sparks excitement at Utah Connections Academy

Thanks to digital learning, more children in Utah are gaining access to the highest-quality teachers and curriculum possible. Watch this video report on Utah Connections Academy to learn how this digital learning program is benefiting students:


Here’s the script of the video: 

VOICE-OVER: K-12 schools in Utah are changing thanks to digital learning, which uses the Internet and electronic communication to allow more children access to the highest-quality teachers and curriculum. Utah Connections Academy, a nonprofit digital charter school, is one of many growing online programs. The principal of the academy, Linda Harless, says students experience a lot of enrichment activities.

LINDA HARLESS 56:57: “Utah Connections Academy is a unique school in that the students can work from home, but it is a public school in the home. So it’s not home schooling; they work with a certified teacher and they have classmates and they do things together. We have field trips and we take the kids on a lot of activities, and we have people come in, different special institutes that come in, so we try to give them a whole lot of enrichment activities in addition to their public school curriculum.”

VOICE-OVER: Digital learning is using technology to do everyday tasks like grading tests, entering grades, and eliminating the need to manage a classroom of 30 kids with short attention spans. Through digital learning, more and more students in Utah have opportunities to customize learning to their needs at any time, place, or speed.

LINDA HARLESS 4:43: “The format is wonderful, because a family can be anywhere at any time and still access their schooling and their teachers. 59:04: “A lot of our parents, let’s say, will move to another state; well, they have the same program in that state, and they love that.”

VOICE-OVER: Cherie Barton and her family have experienced the benefit of being able to access their children’s schooling even if they were traveling outside of Utah.

CHERIE BARTON 32:46: “Our experience this year was very rewarding. We could take the school with us if we wanted to travel. If they wanted to do extra time on any subject, they could, or if it was a subject they really grasped they could move ahead. It was just really nice that it was at their own pace.” 4:03: “It’s really improved their education, and a side benefit was improved family relationships.”

VOICE-OVER: Jeremy Barton graduated from Utah Connections Academy this year; he said attending UCA was better than any education he’d ever received.

JEREMY BARTON 40:10: “With other schools, they teach you core stuff that you’re supposed to learn. But with online they teach you more, along with if you have questions about other things or if you wanted to learn about something, they’d make a specific live lesson just for you.”

VOICE-OVER: Elicia Clegg also has a child enrolled in UCA. She says the teachers truly care about each one of their students.

ELICIA CLEGG 51:39: “The reason why I stay, it comes down to the teachers, because they make or break it. No matter how stressed out they get, no matter how many students they get, they genuinely care. They call, they talk to you, they talk to your student.”

VOICE-OVER: The Barton family had similar things to say.

CHERIE BARTON 33:58: “I know when either of my students would either webmail into the teachers or call, they would get fast response. When we did meet them in person they treated them as an individual student.”

VOICE-OVER: Utah Connections Academy opened in August of 2011, and since then the teachers have been excited to continue with digital learning.

LINDA HARLESS 2:40: “All of my teachers have worked in a traditional setting and now this is their first year in an online setting. And they’re very excited because they feel that they know their students better, because they get to know the whole family. And they interact with that family, and so that’s to the advantage of the student.”

VOICE-OVER: Utah’s efforts to expand and improve digital learning opportunities have made it a leader among the states. To maintain that position, Utah policymakers need to keep removing barriers and encouraging public schools to innovate and improve their use of digital learning. For Sutherland Institute, I’m Alexis Young, reminding you that public policy changes lives.