Vermont’s Education Landscape Evolves: A Decade of Flexible Pathways Sparks Conversations and Collaboration

by | Apr 18, 2024 | Online Teaching, Virtual Learning, VTVLC Students, VTVLC Teachers

VTVLC Co-directors Greg Runyan (left) and Ashley Newton (right) welcome attendees to OBLC 2024.

As Vermont rings in a decade of innovation in education through Act 77’s Flexible Pathways Initiative, conversations around the state abound with reflections, celebrations, and visions for the future landscape of learning in Vermont. At the forefront of this activity are Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative (VTVLC), a pioneer in virtual education in Vermont and a pivotal contributor to flexible pathways in Vermont through their virtual options for VT students.

Enacted into law in 2013, Act 77 laid the foundation for a shift in Vermont’s education system. Designed to foster creativity and personalized learning experiences, Act 77 empowers school districts to seek creative solutions and tailor learning to individual goals, learning styles, and abilities. The concept of Flexible Pathways is crucial to this initiative. Flexible Pathways empowers students to become leaders in their learning through programs and options such as dual enrollment, early college programs, work-based learning, virtual and blended learning, and career and technical education (CTE).

VTVLC, founded in 2010, has been a key player in realizing the vision of virtual programs as a Flexible Pathway to learning in Vermont. Evolving from a la carte virtual course offerings for grades 9-12 grade, VTVLC now offers full-time programs from kindergarten to 12th grade alongside their part-time programs. With rolling and traditional enrollment options, VTVLC has become a cornerstone in delivering accessible, customizable, and flexible learning experiences to Vermont students.

Reflecting on a decade of progress, December saw a commemoration organized by Up for Learning, where stakeholders, including VTVLC, converged in Montpelier to celebrate and reflect on the impact of Act 77. At the heart of the celebration was a profound presentation on the “Bright Spots” in Flexible Pathways delivered by students from throughout the educational landscape in Vermont, with VTVLC students sharing their firsthand experiences as virtual students. 

VTVLC’s annual Online and Blended Learning Conference (OBLC), held in March, generated further dialogue on Flexible Pathways in Vermont. 

“It was wonderful to host OBLC in person for the first time in four years.  Attendees brought great energy while sharing ideas about how to provide educational opportunities for Vermont students,” said Greg Runyan, Director of VTVLC. 

This year’s theme, “Unlocking Flexible Pathways Through Collaboration and Community,” underscored the vital role of collaboration in shaping the future of education. 

I learned valuable information about developing artificial intelligence literacy, digital addiction, and the trajectory of online education,” said OBLC attendee and U-32 teacher Bonnie Gadapee. “The presenters were well informed and represented a wide range of flexible pathways.”

From sessions on early college and dual enrollment by the Community College of Vermont (CCV) to explorations of personalized learning plans and proficiency-based graduation requirements, OBLC served as a site for further explorations of Flexible Pathways.

The OBLC conference helped to reinforce that in today’s technology-saturated world, strategies that were successful in the past may not be successful anymore,” said an OBLC attendee and 

Enosburg Falls High School science teacher Russel LaMantia. “Students deserve a flexible path when it comes to learning the skills needed to be successful in tomorrow’s workplace.” 

As Vermont navigates the evolving terrain of education, VTVLC remains committed to championing innovation, collaboration, and inclusivity in virtual learning. With a foundation in nurturing flexible pathways, VTVLC will continue shaping access to flexible pathways in Vermont.