Through the use of virtual classrooms, WISDOM offers a selection of courses supporting home schoolers. Each classroom environment features a tutor experienced in leading Socratic discussion. Communication within the classroom is achieved through microphone, text chat, and whiteboard. (Webcam is not used, as experience has shown it to be a distraction.)
The online program is available for students who are enrolled with WISDOM. However, once Albertan WISDOM students have had first opportunity to register in the courses, WISDOM opens registrations up to non-WISDOM out-of-Province students, Albertan notification-only students, and WISDOM alumni.* Non-WISDOM in-Province students are not eligible to register for online classes. If a family leaves WISDOM mid-year, they are also by default removing themselves from any online class(es).
WISDOM acknowledges and views parents as the primary educators of their children. The online program is not meant to replace education in the home, but rather acts as an extension of the home, giving support to parent through the high school years (and earlier). Tutors work in cooperation with parents, providing a service that recognizes the authority of mother and father. This entails some flexibility on the part of the tutor.
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Schedule & Fees
Courses are offered in two semesters – Fall (Sept-Dec) and Spring (Feb-May). Each semester is 14 weeks in duration. Most classes meet once per week (some are twice weekly). A reading (or writing assignment in the case of writing courses) is given out, which the student applies himself to between classes. Readings are discussed during 1.5 hour class sessions, with junior level sessions running for 1 hour.
WISDOM course fees range between $165 and $325. Course fees may be taken out of home schooling resource funding or paid with cheque or credit card. Course fees are not collected until the courses have begun in each term.
Cancellation Policy: Students have the option to try up to 2 weeks of official classes and cancel at no penalty. After that point, students who cancel forfeit their course fee. The final date for refunded withdrawal is the last class day of the second week of official classes.
Course Documentation & marks
All students receive a short evaluation of student performance at the end of a course. They are also given the opportunity to write a final end-of-term essay. The parent, in addition to the anecdotal report, may request a letter grade for this final assignment. (A certificate of completion may also be requested and issued by WISDOM upon tutor approval and sufficient student attendance - no more than 3 absences). The responsibility to keep record of evaluation and certificates is that of parents. WISDOM does not keep evaluation records once a course is complete. This is important to keep in mind for parents who wish to create a student portfolio. (Students who miss 5 or more classes are considered to have not completed the course and will not receive an evaluation.)
The course as a whole does not receive a cumulative mark because the tutor can only measure growth through a student's active participation; there are many more areas of growth than participation that are not able to be shown in an online classroom. We also believe that quieter students will show great growth, but that this may only be obvious to the parent. Consequently, we leave any assignment of a cumulative mark to the discretion of the parent.
Students in composition writing courses will have each assignment marked according to a rubric and will receive the marked assignment and corresponding rubric back each week. A cumulative mark will not be provided by the tutor. We encourage parents who wish to give their children a cumulative mark to observe and record their child's progress throughout the course and draw from various elements of development in order to evaluate achievement of goals.
Course Material Requirements
Some courses require the acquisition of books. Books may be purchased used, new, or borrowed through the library system. Many readings for courses are available online at the WISDOM website. Clickable links are utilized.
- A computer (desktop or laptop) is recommended for the best experience. Higher end tablets (like iPads) and smartphones can usually also be used if necessary.
- A working microphone and speaker/headset
- High speed internet connection (stable & adequate to run an online classroom)
- Junior courses: Since parents and children take these courses together, we recommend that they use a laptop with a built-in microphone and speakers or a free standing mic that works with their desktop computer and speaker system.
While the online program team does its best to help parents troubleshoot tech issues, participants may need to obtain outside IT help to fix unresolved problems. Please ensure that all hardware functions well prior to classes.
Parent involvement is encouraged and presumed. The success of these courses is very contingent on student ownership in and outside of class. Parents should always be engaged and informed in the weekly assignments of their children in order to encourage their growth and help them benefit from the course.
Junior courses require that parents take the course with their child and attend each class with them. For Intermediate and Senior courses, a parent may sit in on classes, may have their child only partially involved in a course (example: A child may do the readings, sit in on discussion, but not do a written assignment; or they may do an assignment but remit to the parent instead of the tutor; or they may do the assignment and remit it to the tutor, but have it graded by the parent). WISDOM works to accommodate the wishes of the parent as long as it does not disturb others who are taking the course. Most parents have peripheral involvement, but it is always their prerogative to enter more fully into the process at any point in the term. WISDOM parents may audit any online course free of charge.
* Out-of-Province registrants, Albertan notification-only students, and WISDOM alumni can register at any time, but will be placed on a waiting list until the first day of the month prior to course commencement (August 1 for Fall; January 1 for Spring). At that date, if there is room remaining in the class, they will be registered in the course.
To qualify as an alumnus, the student will have completed high school studies with WISDOM alone. Alumni aged 19 and under qualify for participation in the online program.