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Secret of Successful New Online School
Heritage Christian Online School has become, in only three-and-a-half years, the largest distance education program in British Columbia.

Heritage Christian Online School has become, in only three-and-a-half years, the largest distance education program in British Columbia, with 1,200 full-time and 600 part-time students.

Greg Bitgood

Greg Bitgood, superintendent of the online school and its bricks-and-mortar partner school in Kelowna, British Columbia, says young people today are like a different people group. To fulfill the Great Commission in their digital world means doing what missionary Bruce Olson did in the Amazon – going native.

“I feel as if I’m in a loincloth compared to my students,” Bitgood says. Some computer savvy former students have become staff at the online school.

“We must engage this culture in such a way that we become an integral part of it. The new technology will facilitate a revolution in education. I don’t want to say the classroom will become obsolete but we have to rethink every aspect of education.”

Heritage Online offers a variety of options for both home-schoolers and distributed-learning students who want to keep up with the government’s learning objectives. To do so it utilizes numerous linking websites, training through podcasts, online courses, interactive learning centres created by students for students, messaging, Encom, Skype, Moodle and POP3 e-mail. There are tutorials available for the uninitiated, whether teacher or student.

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Bitgood explains that it is his young staff’s “ability with technology that has pushed [Heritage] to the head of the class” in the province. But he quickly credits two other advantages. One was the timing – the B.C. government became more accepting of religious curriculum as long as it was not within the public system and more interested in distributed-learning experiments. “British Columbia is the best place in the world to home-school with respect to support from the government,” he says.

Heritage has also benefited from a deep understanding of the needs of homeschoolers. Staff took this seriously enough to hire a consultant to help design programs that would fi t the home-school model. Heritage’s annual Christian Home Educators Convention in April brings hundreds of families together to learn and share.

Bitgood is a self-described visionary who never stops. He is passionate about education, discipleship of youth, and technology, themes that he brings together in his recent book Discipling This Generation for a Digital World (available at “It’s crucial information because the world is undergoing unprecedented change,” he says.

Originally published in Faith Today, July/August 2008.




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