I recently sat down with LFHS senior Emmy Raymond, who recently completed a semester of online school, to discuss her experience and what she enjoyed. Here’s five things you need to know about online schooling:
The biggest perk to online school is the flexibility. Students with rigorous schedules like athletes, musicians, or actors can choose to start class whenever their schedule allows. For someone without those restrictions, though, it allows a low-stress environment and the ability to work at your own pace. For someone who is not an early riser, needs a little extra time to work, or would rather focus on one class at a time, this is a great option.
The biggest question about online school is: how does it work? In Raymond’s program, Illinois Virtual, she explained how submitting assignments, taking tests, and lesson plans work: “They give you pages of notes to take a lesson per day. There’s a list of assignments to complete with a specific deadline and a drop box for when you’re done (similar to Google classroom). When you take a test you get locked in the window and can’t leave the site. It does make cheating easier though because you still have access to your phone.”
You communicate with teachers through instant messaging. According to Raymond, “I could directly contact my teachers very easily. They were always there whenever I needed them and I didn’t have to worry about finding a common time to meet. I used IM to contact them and they could give the extra help needed to succeed. I loved my creative writing teacher and felt it was very easy to get to know her.” Many worry entering online school will limit the ability to create relationships with teachers, but it’s still very possible through instant messaging and FaceTime.
Motivation is definitely one of the more difficult aspects of online school for some students. While being able to do work on your own time can be the biggest benefit for people with busy schedules, knowing you have all day can be a killer of motivation for others. The ability to take your own breaks and decide the length of them is a big responsibility in terms of your own learning. A good way to combat laziness is to set specific goals. Something that worked for Raymond was telling herself, “As soon as I finish this assignment, I can watch an episode of Gossip Girl.” With the right incentives, motivation doesn’t have to be a huge issue.
Above all, the low level of social interaction is the biggest con for high schoolers in online school. Although Emmy only did one semester online, it was still a hard aspect for her, “It was hard to be home alone all day and not with friends for part of my senior year. I felt like my friends were moving on without me because I couldn’t do a lot of fun stuff (senior shirts, homecoming, fashion show, etc.)” Though traditional schooling is still the number one way to make friends in your teenage years and the isolation isn’t ideal for everyone, online school is becoming an increasingly viable option for teenagers across the world.