Homeschool students from around the world have been coming to Biola University for years. Now, Biola University is coming to them.
For over 15 years, Biola Youth Academics has allowed homeschool families in Southern California to supplement their students’ educations with biblically centered college-prep courses through the Star Academics and Torrey Academy programs. Now, as Star Academics expands into online education, families in Kansas, Canada, Korea and throughout the world can benefit as well.
In the fall, Star Academics began offering select traditional textbook courses online (Latin 1, SAT Prep, Economics, Government) in addition to Torrey Academy courses (Logic, Writing Lab, the Inklings, Foundations of American Thought), which have been available online since 2001. The plan is to expand the online course offerings year by year and become fully accredited by WASC.
“Ultimately, our goal is to provide premier Christian education to students all over the world as we help raise leaders with global perspectives,” said Biola Youth Academics director Lydia Knopf.
There are also plans to offer select individual classes for elementary students, junior high students and parents, said Knopf.
Biola Youth Academics — which in July merged with Biola’s School of Education — hired a distance learning administrator, Janice Lee, to conceptualize coursework, curriculum and instructional design as well as ensure high standards for learning.
“Distance learning is a new venture and a journey of faith which calls for an adventurous spirit of experimentation,” said Lee. “Many of the classic technology tools are becoming obsolete quickly and we hope to stay on top of extensive current research and progress into necessary changes and improvements with persistent zeal.”
The new online courses are making use of innovative technologies that provide quality course content and collaboration with instructors. Torrey Academy and Latin 1 courses use the Adobe Connect platform, allowing students to attend class in real time and interact with instructors and classmates in real time via audio-conferencing. The rest of the online courses use Blackboard, an industry leader in asynchronous course management. Each course is supplemented with real-time discussion sessions in order to match the community-building aspects of the on-site classes.
Knopf believes the online expansion of Biola Youth Academics fits perfectly with Biola’s strategic initiatives to serve the global Christian community by harnessing new technology and expanding the university’s educational reach.
“Biola Youth Academics is ready to build upon its firm foundations to expand our Christian worldview educational services worldwide,” said Knopf. “We are very excited to share the breadth and depth of the university’s resources, expertise and passions with a special emphasis on biblical integration, spiritual formation and community.”
In addition to the online and in-class course offerings of Star Academics and Torrey Academy, Biola Youth Academics provides P.E. for K-12 homeschoolers, study skills seminars for private, public and home-educated teens, and individualized tutoring for K-12 students. Biola also offers Biola Youth Theatre and Youth Ministry Outreach events on Biola’s campus.