A Seed is Planted in Quarantine:
The Growth of Online Learning in
Think for a moment about your phones, cars, tvs, and even furniture. What is a commonality among these devices? Change. These, among most other aspects of society, have changed and advanced over time. We have gone from mass producing factories that design for the majority to niche businesses that customize products to the needs of each customer. Clothes are tailored to unique styles, phones have individual customer support, and even our food is made to accommodate dietary restrictions. Why then, in an age of growth and innovation, is the education system stuck in the past? There is an ample amount of research-based evidence supporting different learning styles and yet we continue to reinforce education for the masses instead of the individual.
While devastating, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced major academic adjustments. Schools across the country are transforming in person classes to online formats and re-assessing the necessary time commitment and environment needed to fulfill graduation requirements.
There have been many debates over the credibility of online school programs. But over the past few years, more and more studies on the effectiveness of online platforms report their validity. Due to these results, top universities like Penn State, John Hopkins, and Harvard, to name a few, have made degrees attainable via distance learning.
So, what are some of the benefits of online high school programs?
#1: Flexible Schedule, Pace, and Access
Colleges look for students who have many interests and are involved in multiple things. Online, students are able to work at times that are convenient for them, allowing them to pursue other passions and areas of interest throughout the day, this could be a sport, job, art, or service project. Students can work through classes at their own pace, instead of a set class time, spending more time on difficult material, and quickly moving through easier topics. Individual profiles allow students quick and easy access to any of their classes, teacher notes, video tutorials, and assignments- they never have to worry about missing notes or lectures, or leaving a needed book at school again!
#2: More Class Options
Colleges like to see challenging course loads and progress throughout high school years. With an online platform, students have access to hundreds of classes and electives that they wouldn’t at a normal school. This allows them to explore a variety of possibilities and/or specialize in an area they are already interested in pursuing.
#3: Individualized Education Plans and Support
Students design their own schedules and determine the amount of support they need per class. They also have control over how they learn and can put into practice their own individual learning styles. Online programs use multimedia content to present information which increase engagement and retention of course material.
What is executive functioning?
Executive functions are often referred to as the CEOs of the brain. They consist of a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. These areas facilitate an individual’s ability to organize, plan, prioritize, and complete tasks. While these skills come easier to some, most students are still developing these areas and struggle to keep up with daily requirements.
What it looks like:
A student who struggles with executive functioning tasks may:
- Have trouble getting started on an assignment, staying focused on it, and seeing it through to completion
- Struggle to stay organized
- Face difficulty with time management and using their time efficiently
The EAP Approach:
Between academics, golf, and being a teenager; high school students are in constant overdrive. At Ethan Allen Prep, students are explicitly taught skills involving time management, organization, and self-monitoring using strategies such as:
- Breaking big tasks or projects into smaller chunks
- Using task management materials such as planners, checklists, and mental maps
- Providing individualized feedback to grow strengths and work on areas of improvement
This week, EAP students took a break from the classroom and explored the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. They spent the morning racing to answer facts about sea animals and topped off the afternoon in an iMax movie about the Great Barrier Reef. Nothing fishy about it… it was an otterly great day!
Spring Outlook for Students
Recently, I was talking with a colleague and we both opined that this winter has been particularly difficult for both the students and faculty to be their best selves. We couldn’t put our finger on exactly why but felt that, despite the mildness, this winter has not encouraged physical activity, engagement with others or time outdoors. Most winters we have snow thus providing the chance to sled, ski, shovel… and most importantly, a snow day or two! Daylight, physical activity and a couple of unpredictable days off are usually a winter staple.
We came to the conclusion, that during these long months we all need to be more intentional about getting outside, interacting with others, and taking care of our bodies because we function at a higher level when we do these things. I share this as a way of reminding ourselves to be proactive as we head into the long winter months next year. The good news is that spring is around the corner and the days are getting longer. Perhaps as the flowers blossom, our productivity and spirits will as well.Read More
The Teenage Brain
Our belief at Ethan Allen Prep is that students learn best when they are able to engage passionately with learning. One’s ability to maximize his or her learning stems from feeling positive about the school environment. Is it meaningful work that I am engaged in? Do I have strong relationships with teachers and fellow students? Am I engaged in activities that nurture a healthy mind and body? EAP creates a personalized environment that promotes meaningful work with the goal of mastering one’s objectives in the classroom, on the course, and in life. We do this by removing the distractions that the world throws at teenagers today. We recognize that the teenage brain has an advantage over the adult brain because it is still developing and learning. Therefore, we focus on the individual and allow the individual to focus on his or her goals.
Suggested Reading: The Teenage Brain has the AdvantageRead More