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The Open High School of Utah: Openness, Disaggregation, and the Future of Schools

TLRPTIL Volume 53, Number 4, ISSN 8756-3894


While the charter movement has a rich history in Utah, virtual charters are a recent development. In 2007, a founding board consisting of faculty, staff, and graduate students in Utah State University's Center for Open and Sustainable Learning prepared and submitted an application to create the state's second virtual charter, called the Open High School of Utah (OHSU). OHSU opens its virtual doors to ninth graders in the fall of 2009. While students are not yet through the virtual doors, OHSU still provides a glimpse at the ways in which openness, disaggregation, and the Internet will shape the future of schooling. In addition to a firm belief that an environment of choice creates opportunities for students to find the school and program of study that fits them best, the Open High School of Utah is dedicated to increasing access to high quality educational opportunity to everyone around the world. The core philosophy of the OHSU is that education is a universal human right and should be available to everyone. This philosophical position is complemented by the school's mantra of "focus on student learning and outsource everything else." These beliefs have significantly influenced the structure of the OHSU and its services into three areas: (1) innovations in curriculum; (2) innovations in organization; and (3) innovations in technology. Virtual charters or cyber-charters, such as the OHSU, will have a huge role to play in the future of schools. The many virtues of virtual schools are well known, as are the many problems with online learning. But these problems can be overcome, and prudence and good stewardship demand that everyone attends to the potential of virtual schools to increase efficiencies and improve learning outcomes.


Wiley, D. (2009). The Open High School of Utah: Openness, Disaggregation, and the Future of Schools. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 53(4), 37-40. Retrieved August 22, 2019 from .

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