AIU academy to mix online learning with work experience

March 8, 2012 5:47 am

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Next fall, students who are interested in attending a cyber charter school will have a new option -- one that combines online learning with workplace experiences.

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit this week announced the formation of the STREAM Academy, a K-12 cyberschool that will focus on science, technology, research, engineering, arts and mathematics, during an event at its Homestead headquarters. The event was attended by education and business leaders along with academy and AIU staff.

The new school is an offshoot of the Pennsylvania Learners Online, the online cyber charter school the AIU operates.

The curriculum of the academy is designed to help students develop interest and skills in areas that will be useful in the workplace. Students in the STREAM program will be channeled, beginning in middle school, into one of six tributaries:

• biomedical

• engineering

• architecture, digital media arts and technology

• logistics, manufacturing and construction technologies

• energy, emerging sciences and mathematics

• agriculture, plant and animal science.

The tributaries are based on high-priority jobs in the workplace, said Linda Hippert, AIU executive director.

Every student will be assigned to a collaborative group that will work together using computers and other technology to communicate and compile their work. The groups will work in person when they are involved in workplace sessions or on site visits to such places as a museum or the Carnegie Science Center.

Mrs. Hippert said the idea for the academy developed over the past several years as she met with educational and business leaders and learned about the technology gap that exists between the available jobs in the region and the skills of the workforce. She stopped short of describing the STREAM Academy as the first of its kind, but said there was no model that its organizers followed and all of the curriculum was created specifically for the academy.

The skills gap was addressed at the kickoff by Bill Flanagan, executive vice president of corporate relations for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, who told the crowd there that the Pittsburgh region has the largest workforce in its history but that at any given time there are 10,000-20,000 open jobs in the region because workers don't have the skills to fill them.

Mary Niederberger: mniederberger@post-gazette.com; 412-851-1512.
First Published 2012-03-08 04:49:56

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