AP goes online

Advanced Placement courses are going online, reports Ed Week. 

High schools that were once limited in the number of AP courses they could offer—whether from a lack of money, isolated locations, or student numbers too low to justify them—now have a plethora of online providers to choose from and free material to access. At the same time, course creators are learning new lessons about how to organize such information, and online-course requirements from the New York City-based College Board, which sponsors the AP program, are also evolving.

Offering lab sciences online has been a challenge, Ed Week reports. Apex Learning offers a mix of hands-on and virtual labs for physics and biology, but not chemistry.

Because of the element of danger related to mixing potentially hazardous chemicals, (Cheryl) Vedoe said, Apex has restricted chemistry experiments to the virtual kind and has settled for a conditional endorsement from the College Board for the course. The endorsement means the course contains the appropriate AP content, but without the hands-on experiences.

That’s not as good as a real lab, but it extends the AP chemistry option to students whose schools can’t offer the course.

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  1. This may not be ideal, but it’s a nice option. I recently read that South Dakota is now requiring all students (starting in ’10 or ’11 for incoming freshmen) to take not just the previously-required bio, but chem and physics as well. The (few) big schools in the (few) sizeable cities will undoubtedly offer sections of chem lite and physics lite, for those who aren’t prepared/motivated for real chem and physic, but they will still offer the real thing. Small schools – and there are LOTS of VERY small schools in pretty isolated towns – will have no choice but the one-size-fits-all class; watered down enough so that few kids will fail but not sufficient to prepare for real college classes. I can see online AP classes as a better option for these kids. Of course, it’s also a nice option for other subjects, as well, since small schools have difficulty offering AP classes.

  2. Quality Science Labs, LLC offers real chemistry for AP distance learning. PheT is working on virtual labs. eScience could offer AP chemistry kits, but doesn’t advertise them as such.

    See http://www.qualitysciencelabs.com/home.php?cat=256. All of these companies were exhibitors at VSS of iNACOL in November 2010.

  3. I actually find online AP somewhat problematic. Why not simply take an online college course? AP is meant for high school classes that meet regularly/daily – that’s the real difference between college classes and high school.

  4. Why not simply take an online college course?

    Who’s going to pick up the tab for the course? The tuition for college courses are typically the responsibility of the family, but online AP courses are often available at no charge to the student.