Katie Matton Sports/Opinion Editor
Living in the age of technology, it seems that everything is becoming digitalized; textbooks, banking, shopping - even menus at certain restaurants. Given this, it comes as no surprise that classes are converting to the online system as well. At Pioneer, students can take both semester and year-long courses online in addition to their regular classes at school. Completely online schools have been cropping up all across the nation, offering a unique and revolutionary system that can be very beneficial to students.
Claire Butz Feature/Entertainment Editor
We are in an age where technology is taking over. All of a sudden, cars can parallel park themselves, checks can be deposited via cell phone pictures, and groceries can be ordered online. While many technological advancements have made life easier and more efficient, certain elements of our lives cannot be replaced by electronics. This runs true for taking classes.
Online learning is superior to education in a traditional classroom setting in that the lessons are more individualized. Students organize their own schedules and have the freedom to spend more time on topics they struggle with and to cruise through the ones they thoroughly understand. This flexibility is not always available in an in-school classroom, where teachers are obligated to adhere to the needs of many students and cannot change their lesson plans for just one individual.
There is a considerable amount of time during the school day in a traditional setting that students don't spend learning: the first and last couple minutes of each class, passing time, and the time the teacher spends discipling other students and answering their questions. The online school system reduces this wasted time, thus making the school day significantly shorter. Additionally, students who take online classes at home gain the time that is normally spent driving to and from school.
Some argue that several key components of education - discussions, interaction with teachers, and cooperation with peers - are missing from online schools. As online schools progress and improve, however, avenues have developed to avoid these shortcomings. Online students can participate in video chats with other online students in order to partake in discussions similar to those found in a traditional classroom. There are replacements for
student-teacher interaction as well; online educational videos and websites, such as Kahn academy, offer equally good explanations as teachers. What's more is that an online student can rewind and replay an educational video as many times as he or she pleases, while a student in a traditional setting can only ask a teacher to explain something so many times before either he or she becomes an annoyance, or the teacher must move on to another topic in order to stay on schedule.
The online educational system is definitely a non-standard one, but it still possesses many positive aspects. Online students enjoy greater flexibility, a shorter school day, and more individualized learning than students in a traditional classroom setting.
When we transport education to the virtual world, we lose the ability to participate in the classroom. Learning is interactive. With whom are students interacting when a screen is teaching us? Students build off of one another in the classroom. Ideas spark more ideas, creating independent thinkers rather than robotic learners. If students are sitting in bed clicking a mouse, they are not learning, analyzing, or questioning, but absorbing.
If things become difficult in classrooms, students are able to ask their teachers questions and maybe receive additional assistance outside of regular classroom hours. In the case of online classes, students are faced with the barrier of being unable to communicate with their professors. If students do not understand things the first time when taking online courses, their options are severely limited.
Online courses are unable to gauge students’ level of understanding. In real classrooms, teachers often move test dates, have class discussions, and go over concepts that students are failing to understand. Part of teaching is receiving feedback from students and using it to help them better understand concepts.
Online courses are a huge responsibility for high schoolers. Students must manage their own free time in order to complete the lessons and assignments. This can be a serious challenge for even the most self-disciplined. Placing this task on the shoulders of a fourteen year-old freshman almost seems laughable. Most high school students need the structure and discipline that comes with classroom-style learning.
Online courses should not become a regular and preferred method of learning because students will be unable to gain benefits of classroom style learning such as discussion and time management.