Ingenious teenagers can find every manner of reason to take a pass on summer school: There's the two-week family vacation in the middle of the four-week session, not to mention the potential for a day job scooping ice cream-or the fear that they might bomb at cramming a semester's worth of work into a month. In the digital age, however, none is reason enough. The rapid spread of online learning at the secondary level-experts estimate that more than half of all school districts offer some virtual coursework, up from just 30 percent two years ago-is now creating "anywhere, anytime" flexibility for summer students, too.
While the total numbers are still small, many hundreds of students around the country will be signing on in the next week or two for everything from U.S. history to human space exploration. In California, Graham Petersen, who just finished his junior year in Palo Alto, will study Algebra II through the online arm of Oregon's Salem Keizer school district while working as a teacher's assistant in a children's program. "This is no shortcut-it's the full course. But you can work at 11 o'clock at night," says Robert Currie, executive director of Michigan Virtual High School, whose courses, like most, are available nationally.
Beyond convenience, there are instructional reasons to consider the virtual classroom. Those who have struggled in a course during the year often find that the online format makes it easier to master the content. "Most students finish with A's and B's, because teachers don't let them go through with D's," says Jan Bleek, principal of the Internet Academy, an arm of the Federal Way district near Seattle that is offering 45 summer courses at $180 each. "There's lots of revision, a lot of work that goes on in depth between teacher and student after work has been submitted." While grading policies vary, kids often are free to retake assessments or to work through several practice exams until they're ready to be tested. "I got a B-the highest grade in math I've ever, ever gotten since sixth grade," says Petersen, who took the first half of Salem Keizer's online Algebra II class this spring after failing the course first semester.
Success depends largely on actually tackling the content, of course-and nobody (other than parents, perhaps) will be breathing down a student's neck. So it's important to be realistic about whether online study is a good fit with a teenager's learning style. "The No. 1 thing is, are you capable of working on your own?" says Kathy Armstrong, an English teacher at Harris County High in Hamilton, Ga., who is also an instructor for Virtual High School. Since material is presented as text rather than by lecture, being a proficient reader is a must.
31. According to the first paragraph, the reason why teenagers used to have an excuse for not taking academic summer courses is that
[A] they had more important things to do.
[B] they had other distractions and obligations.
[C] society wasn't as competitive.
[D] they were better at making excuses.
32. Why is Graham Peterson studying online?
[A] Because he is not up to the required standard in algebra.
[B] Because he likes working at night.
[C] Because he likes studying at night.
[D] Because he wants to study and work.
33. It can be inferred from the text that students usually get A's and B's because
[A] studying online is better and more convenient for them.
[B] the teachers are not as strict and give higher scores than at regular schools.
[C] most of the students studying online are smarter than average.
[D] the teaching and assessment process continues even after students have submitted their initial work.
34. According to the text, how is studying online different to conventional study methods?
[A] It's suitable for anyone.
[B] It requires some different study skills.
[C] Grading policies vary.
[D] Students can take more practice tests before taking the real exam.
35. The best title of the text might be
[A] Learning via the internet is easy.
[B] Learning via the internet is relaxing.
[C] Learning via the internet can be convenient and instructive.
[D] Summer school is easier than before.
The BBC, Britain's mammoth public-service broadcaster, has long been a cause for complaint among its competitors in television, radio and educational and magazine publishers. Newspapers, meanwhile, have been protected from it because they published in a different medium. That's no longer the case. The internet has brought the BBC and newspapers in direct competition-and the BBC looks like coming off best.
The improbable success online of Britain's lumbering giant of a public-service broadcaster is largely down to John Birt, a former director-general who "got" the internet before any of the other big men of British media. He launched the corporation's online operations in 1998, saying that the BBC would be a trusted guide for people bewildered by the variety of online services. The BBC now has 525 sites. It spends ￡15m ($27m) a year on its news website and another
￡51m on others ranging from society and culture to science, nature and entertainment. But behind the websites are the vast newsgathering and programme-making resources, including over 5,000 journalists, funded by its annual ￡2.8 billion public subsidy.
For this year's Chelsea Flower Show, for instance, the BBC's gardening micro-site made it possible to zoom around each competing garden, watch an interview with the designer and click on "leaf hotspots" about individual plants. For this year's election, the news website offered a wealth of easy-to-use statistical detail on constituencies, voting patterns and polls. This week the BBC announced free downloads of several Beethoven symphonies performed by one of its five in-house orchestras. That particularly annoys newspapers, whose online sites sometimes offer free music downloads-but they have to pay the music industry for them.
It is the success of the BBC's news website that most troubles newspapers. Its audience has increased from 1.6m unique weekly users in 2000 to 7.8m in 2005; and its content has a breadth and depth that newspapers struggle to match. Newspapers need to build up their online businesses because their offline businesses are flagging. Total newspaper readership has fallen by about 30% since 1990 and readers are getting older as young people increasingly get their news from other sources-principally the internet. In 1990, 38% of newspaper readers were under 35. By 2002, the figure had dropped to 31%. Just this week, Dominic Lawson, the editor of the Sunday Telegraph, was sacked for failing to stem its decline. Some papers are having some success in building audiences online-the Guardian, which has by far the most successful newspaper site, gets nearly half as many weekly users as the BBC-but the problem is turning them into money.
36. What does "John Birt … 'got' the internet before any of the other big men of British media" mean?
[A] John Birt was connected to the internet before his competitors.
[B] John Birt launched the BBC website before his competitors launched theirs.
[C] John Birt understood how the internet could be used by news media before his competitors did.
[D] John Birt understood how the internet worked before his competitors did.
37. Why does the text state that the BBC's success in the field of internet news was "improbable"?
[A] Because the BBC is a large organisation.
[B] Because the BBC is not a private company.
[C] Because the BBC is not a successful media organisation.
[D] Because the BBC doesn't make a profit.
38. The author cites the examples in paragraph 3 in order to demonstrate that
[A] the BBC's websites are innovative and comprehensive.
[B] the BBC's websites are free and wide-ranging.
[C] the BBC spends its money well.
[D] the BBC uses modern technology.
39. The BBC needn't to pay the music industry to provide classical music downloads for users of its websites because
[A] the BBC is Britain's state-owned media organisation.
[B] the BBC has a special copyright agreement with the big music industry companies.
[C] the BBC produces classical music itself.
[D] the BBC lets the music industry use its orchestras for free.
40. According to the final paragraph, the main advantage that the BBC has over newspapers is that
[A] more people use the BBC website.
[B] the BBC doesn't need to make a profit.
[C] the BBC has more competent managers.
[D] young people are turning to the internet for news coverage.