This week Bishop Dunne Catholic is piloting our On-line Education Program. This idea is the combination of the thoughts of several people with a variety of intentions. This program will start with Seniors looking to complete graduation requirements. Over the course of the year it will expand to other students within our community. Possibly someday this program will expand beyond the reach of the North Texas highway system to include students in various parts of the country.
One of the initial ideas in this program is with those students looking to complete our graduation requirements. The process in creating this program was simple. If a student has difficulty meeting the requirements of a course in a traditional classroom setting, then how can we provide an environment in which the student can be successful? As a school looking to find new ways to apply our technology resources the answer was staring us in the face, the internet. It was the desire of the administration to utilize the experience of our faculty to create an on-line environment that will help all students find success in school. We believe that through a well structured course facilitated using an on-line environment we can achieve this result.
An on-line environment removes many of the factors that prove difficult for some students. Lets face it, for some students it takes a while to adjust to a high school program. Often a summer school setting in no relief for these difficulties. Therefore, the students are not provided an opportunity to make up for previous growing pains. By provide the students an opportunity to take a class on-line the student can demonstrate mastery of a discipline on their own time, while still completing the requirements of the current year. It provides them a unique opportunity to apply the skills they have learned over the previous year–time management, independent study and researching skills. All while learning new skills such as expanding the expanding educational uses for the internet.
While the initial program is for those students looking to meet the requirements for graduation, it is our belief that this program will expand to students looking to take courses that will not fit a traditional schedule. After all, why should a student be prevented from taking psychology simply because the only offering of this course is at the same time as statistics. By using services such as Edline, educational tools such as iPods and Web 2.0 application every student with the time will be able to take these courses.
Then consider summer school. This is a curious phrase. In college I took summer school courses in order to graduate with two Bachelor’s degrees on-time, translated to within five years. Being involved in various activities outside of the classroom limited my ability to schedule all of the course the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk) required for graduation. Why should this be different for high school students? Students looking to meet graduation requirements should be provided the opportunity to do just that, graduate.
Often summer school seems more like a means to discipline students who falter during the school year. Summer school should not be a task regulated by time served. Rather it should be a program constructed to allow a student to demonstrate they can master the content and skills required by a course. Our goal is that our on-line education program will be such a means.
For those who doubt the validity of on-line education I recommend reviewing a couple of issues. First, review this article on the use of on-line learning as a means to help at risk students. Second, consider an initiative being considered by the state of Michigan to add on-line learning as a graduation requirement.
As we begin this journey expect periodic updates regarding the growth and adjustments to this program. Your thoughts on this issue would be great as well.
Enjoy your day,