Today, I am going to reflect on a hot topic of discussion. No it is not another political movement or charity video (by the way April 20th for Kony 2012 is coming up… has anyone else heard anything about the movement after that first week? I know I have not), it is a point of discussion of its’ own class: online learning. This week a few of my classmates, Mr. G, and a handful of other teacher met in a Skype session to discuss our experiences with online classes. After about an hour and a half of discussion we ended the chat and went our separate ways, but the session really got me thinking: what do I think of online classes? And are there any limits to the types of classes you can take? Since I have taken multiple online classes from different schools I feel confident in saying that almost any class can be taken online and be just as, if not more, successful than classes that meet in person regularly as long as the teacher and students are taking advantage of the tools at their disposal.
Honestly, online classes are the future. If an online class uses social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Docs, and WordPress then the people who argue that online classes do not allow students to interact as they would in a classroom lose that argument. I would know because I have been in classes that fall on both sides of the argument. I have participated in classes where the only way teachers interacted with her students was by having us email in our assignments once a week. In the seven week intensive course not once did I interact with a classmate; in fact, I do not even know who else took the class with me. Yes, I got my work done, but I could have done what I was doing on my own without the class. On the other hand, in my current online class it is rare that a week goes by without interaction. Whether it is a group discussion or collaborative project ideas are exchanged, connections are formed, and eyes are opened. As long as future online classes are like my current class then there is nothing to worry about.
Now I am not suggesting that all classes be replaced by online courses. It would be quite hard to do so in physical education, visual arts, and performing art classes (it is possible, but I fear then that the quality of education would deteriorate). What I do strongly believe is that every high school student should take at least one online class before graduating. Why? Because if an online class is done properly the benefits will overwhelm any drawbacks. As I mentioned before my online class has opened my eyes. You know the saying no two people are the same? Well that saying can also be applied to the United States. By interacting with girls from coast to coast and even some off the coast I learn about different issues going on in each different state. In addition, some of the girls in my class go to boarding schools; some have schools that heavily monitor their internet sites, and so on. Had I taken a government class at my school I can guarantee that some of the biggest discussions that have happened online would not have happened in the class. Another reason students should take online classes is because it better prepares them for the future. We live in a global world and that will not be changing anytime soon. Everyday people from different countries hold conferences through Skype and work on projects through sites such as Google Docs. By teaching students how to properly use these sites and having them use these sites to complete work (in groups and individually) gives them an advantage over other students when they enter the work world.
I could go on and on about more advantages of online classes, they are limitless. Online classes are an undeniable part of students’ futures, and if they employ strategic technological applications the possibilities (and types of classes) are endless.
Note: I just realized that my classmate Elisa also posted about the Skype session. To read more about it click here.