1510 12th Avenue North
PO Box 5036
Fargo, ND 58105
(701) 231-6000

By Jennifer Nairne

The North Dakota Center for Distance Education has been providing distance education for nearly eighty years. Over those eight decades, education generally — and distance education especially — have changed dramatically both in content and in delivery methods. But through all those changes, ND CDE has been dedicated to providing students, teachers, parents, and schools the best materials and delivery methods necessary for every student to be successful.

Any parent-teacher can tell you that homeschool laws and regulations differ from state to state and that the paperwork and administration required to satisfy state education requirements can be overwhelming. Even public education classrooms can be substantially different – nine states have not enacted laws to permit charter schools and Maine passed their first law only last summer. North Dakota is one of those nine states and ND CDE is dependent upon the tuition of their students and competes with any other online school. This competition ensures a product with high-quality content guided by professional educators who are both responsive and helpful.

There are two delivery methods used at ND CDE. There are print materials that consist of a traditional correspondence course – students receive hard copies of the content and fax in their completed assignments and tests. ND CDE also offers courses online, with content and curriculum that has evolved and incorporated the many developments in education technology. Using a Learning Management System called BrainHoney, students can view a snapshot of their academic career. Students log in to their personal dashboard that provides a pacing chart and graphs that display the amount of work remaining to be completed for each class. Every link and resource for courses can be accessed here, in addition school email communication and social networking sites. The social networking sites are closed off to the general public, are closely monitored, and follow strict regulations regarding the privacy of minors. They are mainly relegated to classroom forums and chats which are used to engage the students as a group online.

The online education platform has allowed ND CDE to offer flexibility unheard of in traditional education. Courses are mainly asynchronous with a rolling enrollment and are highly individualized to the students participating in each course. The courses offer content and activities that are unavailable to many homeschoolers and most traditional public schools. ND CDE offers courses that are “leased” from other companies that provide the content. The content is rigorously evaluated and aligned to the strictest of state standards. One example is a Forensic Science course developed by EDynamic Learning – it is similar to the popular T.V. show CSI, but for kids. On the student’s personal dashboard, you are able to map a class to the state standards of your choice. If a standard is not covered, additional resources and information is provided to cover the necessary information. And each course is guided by a professional educator who is always available to aid in covering additional information. For homeschoolers required to provide evidence of attendance or coverage of standards, the dashboard also allows you to track the content and exams in addition to the number of hours spent working on each subject.

Many of the students go on to college and some use courses from ND CDE to supplement their public school education. ND CDE offers several Advanced Placement courses, which offer duel credit to be applied once accepted into college. All exams are completed in the presence of an Exam Administrator and the school will work with any and all resources available in your community to provide that assistance. In the absence of qualified teacher or administrators, ND CDE administrators will work with homeschool parent teachers to provide the environment necessary for student exams. The school is fully accredited by AdvancEd and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. Additionally, all core courses offered, both print and online versions are approved by the National Collegiate Athletic Association – the organization responsible for establishing the initial eligibility of student athletes in college. And unlike many online curricula available for homeschoolers, ND CDE offers middle school courses online and through traditional print correspondence courses.

From homeschoolers in Alaska to gifted students looking for rigorous coursework to supplement the classes available in public education, the North Dakota Center for Distance Education has made it their mission to accommodate the needs of every student and to provide them the tools and resources they need for success. Homeschoolers can utilize the many tools offered and engage with their peers as little or as much as they choose. Students have the opportunity to explore their interests and learn the skills needed for college and for their professional lives. The content is relevant, engaging, and fun, while encouraging students to think analytically, to use the resources available to solve problems, to be innovators, to be creative, and to become the leaders of the next generation. JN