Yes/No: online classes
August 28, 2018
Keep it in the classroom
Online classes have the chance to change the education landscape at KHS in a massive way. In some ways good: it can create a way for students to get ahead and squeeze in that IP, which can lead to less stress both in and out of the classroom. For any students who find themselves out sick and missing school, they offer a way to stay up to date with classes from home. But, like all good things, Launch, the new online school program, comes with some pretty major flaws.
With the new program, students who have previously failed a course still have the opportunity to avoid summer school and use Launch to make up the class. The difference is the school has a lot more trust in how comprehensive Launch is. With that comfort, the school could begin to push this alternative on to more students. To those facing the threat of summer school, this may seem like an ideal scenario. They can avoid classes in the summer while taking a what could potentially be be an easier online version.
Take this for example. According to the New York Times, a study done in Chicago public schools found that out of students who failed algebra and were randomly assigned either online or face-to-face recovery courses, the students who were assigned the online course learned significantly less than those who were taught by a teacher in a classroom setting. And while students learning a little less but gaining the ease of the course online might not seem like a large problem, its side effects can be.
With the newfound leisure of taking an online course after failing rather than attending summer school, the consequences of not paying attention in class or slacking off become a lot more relaxed. Students may think it’s easier to not try in classes they don’t like and use the online alternative. Of course, KHS can be more strict on students who attempt this loophole, but the possibility is still there. With Launch’s flexibility and ‘personalized’ approach, the school may think in the long run, online credit recovery could be the main way people make up a failed class.
Not only can online classes harm students retaking a course, it creates the possibility of taking even more students out of a classroom environment and denying them all the benefits it can offer. While KHS still only offers four courses (Personal Finance, Health, Music Appreciation, and Sociology) to all students, what says, with the variety Launch offers, they don’t add more?
Of course to most, that doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Online classes at KHS are notoriously easy, with some people finishing a course in only a week’s time. And more courses online means more ways to get both a late arrival and early dismissal. However, that was Odysseyware. According to Dr. Havener, Launch offers a more thorough online class, that, while it will take longer to complete, will help students learn material they might not from online classes years prior. But with the thoroughness comes new problems. These online classes will now take both more time out of a student’s busy schedule, while also removing students from a classroom environment. Why does this matter? Because being in a classroom has a lot more benefits than just learning.
For myself, going to high school was a big change from middle school; there were more people, more classrooms and a lot of unfamiliar faces. But through random seat assignments, class discussions and group chats that were made to help each other with course work, I was able to quickly make friends thanks to being in a classroom. While that may not be the case for most, a majority of the friends I made throughout high school came from being on campus and interacting with others, something that online classes threaten to take away.
There are many benefits to a new online learning system and the chance for students who suffer from circumstances out of their control to take classes they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to, the fact of the matter is for all students, online classes need to remain limited. I mean, Mr. Kelly can only chase down so many people during the school day.
Open to online
Every winter, the auditorium fills with hundreds of students. The time has come for them to pick new classes, and counselors take the stage to repeat the list of 24 credits required for graduation. With only seven class periods in a day, many students have to choose between taking classes they enjoy and completing graduation requirements. Health and Personal Finance were two classes that could be taken online through the Odysseyware program and allowed for those requirements to be met. With the switch to Launch program, there should be an increase in classes offered online.
Each KHS student must have 7.5 elective credits in order to graduate. It seems like there is plenty of room for classes that students get to choose and enjoy, but they quickly run out. World language counts as an elective credit, and while it isn’t technically required to graduate, virtually all colleges require two or more world language credits. In addition, classes such as band, orchestra and journalism are all elective credits. Additional online course options leave more room for students to take the classes they enjoy. If a student loves art, they shouldn’t have to give it up just to run laps in gym. It is true that students can take gym in the summer, but it’s an inconvenience. I don’t know anyone who would want to go to school at 7:30 a.m. during the summer. Online classes give opportunities for more learning and more success. The Launch program currently has 48 different classes to choose from, so when students can only take those two classes online, their high school experience is being limited when it could and should be maximized.
Of course, online classes aren’t all positive, and there should be limits to the amount of classes students can take online, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t offer them at all. The switch from Odysseyware to the Launch program is supposed to help eliminate the problems that happened in the past, like completing courses in minimal amounts of time. With Odysseyware, students could complete their classes in a matter of weeks, days and sometimes hours. Because of the switch to the Launch program, the pace is set so it’s more like traditional classes, with the goal to help students remember more rather than having them rush through the class to finish as quickly as possible. It allows students to practice self-discipline while completing their classes at a pace similar to that of traditional learning.
In the past, The grading system for online classes different than traditional classes. Personal Finance and Health online used to be pass/fail instead of a letter grade. With the switch to Launch, this is changed, and for the better. When students took classes on Odysseyware, the class had no real impact on their GPA because their final grade would be a simple pass/fail. From now on, online classes will have a letter grade, eliminating the unfair advantage online classes had over traditional ones. Both online and traditional classes will now have the same grading system, as it should be.
Traditional classes should be prioritized, but if a student wants to enhance their learning, they should have that opportunity. Online learning is the future, so It’s time to allow students to have more online options and launch KHS into the 21st century.