Campus Tour: How One School Has Built a Community in Distance Learning
It’s no secret that schools have the ability to foster community and support for and among its students. And for one school, community isn’t found within its hallways or after the last school bell. In fact, it’s not found within a building at all.
“I’m 6 years old and I’m in a computer programming course,” one student introduces herself. Another student chimes in, “so I’m currently learning WordPress and I’m building a website for a school in Nepal.” The stories keep rolling as we meet more students. The kids are diverse, from all backgrounds, ages, and demographics. Some are building lathes to shape crayons, others using 3D printers, and others still fully focused on computer-based tech.
Then we met Marcelo. For any other school, he’d be the poster child. For My Tech High, he was one in a line of incredible individuals pursuing their dreams. Marcelo Fitzgerald is an elite ballroom –ranked second in the nation–who spends the bulk of his year traveling and competing.
At My Tech High, school looks a little different for everybody. On any given day, it may look like this: One student signs into their Adobe Creative Cloud to work on a project for one of their design courses. Another student, states away, submits a math assignment before getting ready to leave for their internship. And on the other side of the world, another learner is reaching out to one of their mentors online to get help with an assignment. Marcelo gets to log in from Paris, engage deeply in an online learning experience, then turn the computer off and engage deeply in a physical one.
For proof that My Tech High is the furthest thing from what you’d expect, look no further than founder and CEO Matt Bowman. When he isn’t being a serial entrepreneur or rebuilding how we think about education, Matt’s hiking the Rockies in Provo. His brainchild, My Tech High, is a marvel of what technology and great ideas can do.
Despite the physical distance between them, these kids are all students in the same school community online.
My Tech High is creating a very real school in a very virtual space. Students can join virtual clubs and interact, and they have unlimited access to certified teachers and experienced mentors. Marcelo gets to explore interests, like his love of Harry Potter, in a community of like-minded students.
My Tech High is creating a very real school in a very virtual space. Students can join virtual clubs and interact, and they have unlimited access to certified teachers and experienced mentors.
But this school knows that their students have big lives beyond the school space. In fact, those big lives are what draw so many of the students leading them to pursue online options. My Tech High is home to world-traveling Instagrammers, pop stars, young actors, famous young dancers like Marcelo, and students with all sorts of lifestyles that demand a bit more flexibility.
That’s why they get the flexibility and diverse options they need to bring education to life. Because the school is student-focused, their support and advocacy for students go well beyond the textbook. But, it has us asking, “Wait, why don’t I want flexibility and freedom in my school?” My Tech High plays home to hundreds of normal students as well–folks looking to give their little learner a bespoke experience that delivers on the promise of what education should look like.
And campus life is actually pretty stellar, too. In addition to the virtual community space, My Tech High offers other resources for finding community off the screen. This way, students can go on community field trips, participate in hackathons and business competitions, or perform community service. Or, for some students, doing all of the above. In fact, Marcelo was able to pair his dance competition in France with a self-serve unit on French history and some great resources for exploration.
My Tech High is providing a space not only for learning and flexibility but also for building community. And now more than ever, we could use support like that.