A homicide has been committed. The crime scenario has been set out just like a case on a CSI television show.
The body of a woman has been found in the woods. Who could have killed her? The woman had just broken up with her boyfriend and found someone on the Internet.
Was her ex-boyfriend so jealous and dangerous he killed her? Was her new Internet boyfriend all he seemed to be or was he a killer just looking for another victim? Did the crime take place in the woods where the body was found or someplace else?
It is up to the four students at R.A. Hubbard High to investigate. Shymyia Meade, Lacrissa Murphy, Alexandria Mason and Micah Beasley will have to use the knowledge they learn from their forensics class to solve the case.
Forensics is one of the classes available to Alabama students through ACCESS Distant Learning. With this program students have access to quality education and coursework. The classes are web-based and interactive video-conferencing taught by Alabama-certified and highly-qualified teachers.
ACCESS has proven to be a great program for small schools where the normal curriculum covers core subjects but does not offer classes in foreign languages, advanced math and science and interesting electives such as forensics.
Students do not simply sit in front of a computer screen and complete a workbook. The classes allow for interaction with teachers. The students are not alone in room with computers. A trained Distance Learning facilitator monitors the classes and is prepared to help students make the most of the learning opportunity.
"Our students could never take these classes at R.A. Hubbard," facilitator Laverne Mason Smith said. "We have students taking advanced placement classes in English, history, biology and advanced math."
Several foreign languages including French and German are being taught at Hubbard according to Smith.
Lawrence County Superintendent of Education Heath Grimes said all high schools in the county are using Access Distance Learning and web-based classes. Distance Learning has been in LC school for about 10 years and web-based classes for about three years.
The program at R.A. Hubbard was a pilot program when it began, back when the school was still Courtland High School. Others schools followed the plan used at Courtland to implement programs.
"It is a great way to bring more opportunity to our students," Grimes said. "This is especially important for (Class) 1A and 2A schools."
There are some logistics to be worked out when the distance learning classes hook up with another school in the state.
"We have to work on scheduling classes to make things fit sometimes," Grimes said.
One of the best things about some of the web-based classes is they can be taken anytime during the day. There are monitor procedures and testing in the web-based classes.
"This is also great in that if only one student wants to take an approved class that student can do so with distance learning," Grimes said.
Access Distance Learning offers kids a learning experience using the tools they will use in the future – computers and the Internet.
The students in the Hubbard forensics class all had different reasons for taking the class.
"I thought it would be something different," Meade said.
"I thought it would be a challenge and a great opportunity," Murphy said.
"I wanted to take it to explore it for a career," Mason said.
Beasley just thought the class would be fun.
"I like doing stuff in the lab the best," he said.
Murphy said studying the skeleton was the most interesting thing in the class so far.
"You know, looking at skeletal remains," Murphy said.
Beasley likes looking at bones too.
"I like firearms and ballistics," Mason said.
She is also interested in toxicology and cause of death.
"I am interested in facial reconstruction," Meade said.
The forensics class is setup like a investigation. The students gather information about where the body was find and the victim's apartment where a lot of blood was found.
Each week the students learn another aspect of forensics and each week they are given a clue that will help them solve the crime. By the end of school year, the students should have enough knowledge from their study and the clues given them to solve the crime.
They will also have had a learning experience that would not be available to them without distance learning programs.
It is a win-win-situation for everyone.