Virtual High School (VHS) wins 2001 Stockholm Challenge Award for Global Excellence in Information Technology
Elizabeth Pape
          Concord, MA -- Virtual High School (VHS), the successful online program that has set the standard for Internet-based learning, has been awarded the 2001 Stockholm Challenge in the education category. The Stockholm Challenge is an international awards program for ground-breaking projects in information technology. Often called "the Nobel Prize of information technology," it focuses on the benefits that information and communications technology can bring to people, society and the environment. Prizes are awarded in seven categories to projects that seek to promote democracy by closing the gap between the information-rich and the information-poor.

          Virtual High School was developed with a federal grant over five years by The Concord Consortium and the Hudson, Massachusetts Public Schools. The Concord Consortium is a nonprofit educational research and development organization based in Concord, Massachusetts. A pioneer in the field of online learning, it has developed strategies that make full use of the potential for collaborative learning over the Internet.

          Through VHS, high school students across the country and world-wide can choose from more than 100 online courses, ranging from architecture and aviation to psychology and meteorology. "This has been an extraordinary opportunity for students to take enrichment and advanced courses that help them prepare for college and the world of work," says Sheldon Berman, Superintendent of Hudson Public Schools, who helped to launch the program. "These are the kinds of courses that high schools could not possibly provide normally."

          In exchange for teaching one "NetCourse," a school can enroll 20 students in any VHS course. Schools with limited resources can expand their course offerings without adding teachers. Since member schools share courses that they create, the costs are low and everyone benefits through cooperation. This sharing of instruction over the Internet helps to address the problem of the "digital divide," and gives students a rich experience in the use of technology for learning.

          The award recognition comes at a time when Virtual High School is making the transition from a federally-funded research project to an independent non-profit organization. When the federal grant period ends on October 1, VHS Inc. will continue to offer its services under the same administrative staff. Commenting on the change, Bob Tinker, President of The Concord Consortium, notes that "the new organization will continue to improve on the core VHS expertise: high quality, content-rich online courses using proven designs that reflect years of research-based experience."

          The Stockholm Challenge Jury evaluated 742 projects from 90 countries. There were 23 finalists in the education category, three of which have been awarded prizes. Winners in all categories were announced at a ceremony in Stockholm today.

          For additional information:
          Virtual High School
          The Stockholm Challenge
          The Concord Consortium
          Hudson Public Schools

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