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Flexible Scheduling for Virtual and Hybrid Learning

Offering students and families choice in scheduling to best meets their needs

Overview

A virtual school can present opportunities to redefine a school’s schedule and introduce innovative ways to structure classes and learning experiences. Many virtual and hybrid schools have embraced flexible scheduling, in which students can choose what, when, and/or how they want to complete coursework in a way that best meets their needs and learning preferences. Whether virtual schools have some synchronous classes or are completely asynchronous, they have incorporated some degree of flexibility akin to professional remote/hybrid jobs, offering students and families more control over their schedule than a traditional school setting.

Approach

The first step to adding flexibility to a school schedule is centering on students’ and families’ needs. Understanding the context of students’ lives and the community they serve can heavily influence how a school determines its schedule. For example, do some students have other commitments (e.g., daytime jobs, caring for siblings/children, supporting household responsibilities) that would make it challenging for them to join live classes during the day? Do some students need to train or rehearse multiple hours per day for competitive sports or performing arts? Do students live near a military base and need to travel frequently with their families? Taking these external factors into account can help schools decide how they want to build flexibility into their schedule and offer students choice based on their individual circumstances.

Here are some examples of flexible approaches offered by several virtual and hybrid schools:

  • Time flexibility: ASU Prep Digital allows their students to decide how they would like to map out their weekly schedules. The virtual school incorporates a few synchronous live classes per week and then offers students the opportunity for students to determine when they would like to complete the rest of their coursework and assignments. Map Academy offers evening studios from 4 to 6:30 PM, Monday through Thursday, where students can receive support around their coursework. The evening program is helpful for their students, many of whom have jobs and other obligations during the day. (See examples of a student’s weekly planner and a course pace chart below.)

  • Course flexibility: My Tech High offers students and families the choice to select which type of course they would like to enroll in, including the provider and platform. They offer courses from third-party online platforms, local in-person courses, or custom-built courses using a variety of resources. Students can customize their schedule based on their learning preferences and interests. (See how this works with the My Tech High’s Schedule Builder below.)

  • Location flexibility: Taos Academy and Village High School are hybrid schools that offer flexibility around where students take their courses. Students at Taos Academy can take in-person classes on campus between two and five days per week and decide how to build the rest of their weekly schedule based on their individual needs and preferences. Village High School offers “Remote Fridays,” where students can work independently at their own pace from home or use them as “intensive” days where they can dive deep into an elective and spend a longer block of time on it. For example, students in an outdoor fitness class can spend the day hiking on a mountain.

  • Process flexibility: The Forest School and The Forest School Online emphasize the importance of “flow,” a process in which students get into a natural rhythm and engage deeply with an activity that they are enjoying. Students have the responsibility of "owning the clock,” meaning they can move through their day without an adult micromanaging them and telling them where to be at what time. (Read more about how students get into the “flow” at The Forest School.)


Strategy Resources


ASU Prep Digital’s Course Pace Chart

The course pace chart from ASU Prep Digital provides estimated time and deadlines for students... Learn More

A Day in the Life of an ASU Prep Digital Student

This video shares a glimpse into how a student at ASU Prep Digital uses the... Learn More

My Tech High's Schedule Builder

Families and students can use this interactive tool from My Tech High to build a... Learn More

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Taos Academy’s Hybrid Weekly Schedule

These examples from Taos Academy demonstrate how different students with unique needs can craft a... Learn More

Village High School’s 2021-22 Calendar

Village High School is a hybrid school that has created a unique schedule for their... Learn More