Division News Article

Vista Virtual School — Alberta’s largest online school

October 2nd, 2019

Vista Virtual School (VVS) is one of about 30 online schools in the province of Alberta. Its 30+ teachers provide instruction to almost 500 full-time students and roughly 10,000 part-time registrants making it the largest online school in Alberta.

The Pembina Hills School Division Board of Trustees opened Vista Virtual School in 1996 to address demands for quality online education. The school started modestly with 110 students and shared staff with Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC), also operated by Pembina Hills. Over the past 20 years, Vista Virtual School has grown rapidly. The school has campuses in Edmonton and Calgary and operates independently, no longer sharing staff and infrastructure with ADLC.

“Learning Without Limits”

The school’s motto really does describe their approach to online education. Vista Virtual School is not limited by a fixed timetable for students, which means it is vastly more flexible than a traditional setting. Continuous intake and year round programs provide flexibility in delivery, timeline for completion and course load.

Vista Virtual School is not limited to just a few courses in a few subjects. It offers the full range of online and print-based courses in Grades 1-9. All core program courses and many ‘optional’ courses are delivered online to high school students. Students are not limited by geography or accessibility. While students have opportunities for in-person interactions and support at the campuses, no student is limited by the typical physical constraints of a traditional school building.

About our students

In the 2018-19 school year, Vista Virtual School served over 10,000 students. While the majority of enrollments were for part-time students (shared with other Boards) over 150 full-time students were registered in grades 1-9. About 1,200 grade 10-12 students use Vista Virtual School for their full-time high school.

Vista Virtual School’s flexibility is attractive to students such as elite athletes or accomplished musicians or those who travel with their parents to various parts of the world. Many students choose VVS because conventional schools have not worked for them. Factors in a traditional setting can add to mental health issues that get in the way of learning. Students in need of constant medical care use VVS to access a comprehensive yet flexible curriculum that can be studied at home, during travel, or in the hospital. Many high school students choose to take courses from Vista Virtual School to upgrade or to fill gaps in their program.

Is Vista Virtual School like a regular school?

VVS provides the same services that students in any community school would expect. They offer academic counseling, field trips, extracurricular and enhancement activities, awards ceremonies, and a formal commencement ceremony. This is all in addition to continuous interaction with school staff. Teachers also provide direct instruction to individuals to supplement students’ learning. The courseware has been acquired from ADLC, however VVS teachers customize the courses for their students.

An attractive alternative

Vista Virtual School has responded to the demand for quality learning at a distance. Its value has been recognized by thousands of Alberta students. It is clear that there is “Learning Without Limits” for students at Vista Virtual School!