ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 27, 2005 – In collaboration with Florida Virtual School (FLVS), Capella University has launched an innovative master's degree program with a focus on teaching in "virtual schools" — educational organizations that offer courses over the Internet or through similar Web-based methods. The virtual school specialization aligns with national standards and incorporates new instructional techniques and teaching strategies for the steadily growing virtual classroom environment. Teachers, administrators and thought-leaders have identified these as critical tools for modern teacher-preparation programs.

“To develop this new master's degree specialization, we surveyed the education and teaching landscape to uncover the precise needs of today's teachers,” said Michael J. Offerman, president, Capella University. “Our research showed that a majority of teachers often feel ill-prepared to deal with the challenges of today's classroom, including virtual learning environments. In collaboration with Florida Virtual School, we're proud to offer this expanded online teaching and learning specialty.”

Capella University's new six-course virtual school focus includes: Instructional Strategies, Technology Skills, Assessment Strategies, and Communications Skills for virtual school teachers, as well as Social Issues and Virtual School Teaching and a practicum in Advanced Classroom Instruction. Aligned with the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), the new program will be delivered online by doctoral faculty who are both K-12 scholars and practitioners.

“We recognized long ago that teachers need enriching professional-development opportunities to meet the changing and growing demands of a modern classroom,” said Julie Young, CEO, Florida Virtual School. “Particularly in the K-12 environment, we're finding that teachers have a strong need to learn new and better strategies for teaching online. We are pleased to add our virtual-school teaching experiences and knowledge to Capella University's high-quality educational offerings, helping prepare our nation's educators to teach from any classroom.”

The Capella University master's degree program offers major specializations centered around a common five-course core. Each specialization can be customized further to encourage learners to meet their personal, professional or school site needs. The initial Capella University master's program launched in October 2004, with first-quarter classes ending in December 2004. So far, students have responded enthusiastically.

“They say that true learning 'transforms' you from the inside out; it becomes a part of you,” said Pia Imperial, a student at Capella University. “The lessons from this course have definitely become a part of me and I leave a better teacher, leader and person because of it.”

In addition to the virtual school teaching focus, participants can also select elementary classroom instruction, secondary classroom instruction, teacher leadership, advanced instruction in mathematics or advanced instruction in science. Upon completion of the program, participants receive a master's degree with a specialization in advanced classroom instruction.

About Florida Virtual School
Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is an established leader in developing and providing virtual 6-12 education solutions. FLVS currently serves the state of Florida and beyond, offering more than 100 courses including honors courses and 11 Advanced Placement (AP®) courses, to students in grades 6-12, as well as adults seeking GED alternatives. Founded in 1997 as a pilot project by the Florida Legislature, FLVS has grown from serving 77 students to more than 15,000 in the 2003-2004 school year. For additional information, see www.flvs.net.

About Capella University
Founded in 1993 to serve working adults and employers, Capella University is an accredited* online academic institution. Capella University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business, technology, education, human services and psychology. The university currently serves more than 11,000 enrolled learners from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Central to Capella's approach are achievement-oriented learners, expert faculty, and a university staff that is passionate about each individual's success. Today, Capella is a national leader in online education, offering high-caliber academic excellence and pursuing balanced business growth. Capella University is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Capella Education Company, headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, please visit www.capella.edu or call 1.888.CAPELLA (227-3552).

*Capella University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, located at 30 N. LaSalle, Suite 2400