FHS experiments with online class

As the Internet becomes an even more crucial element of American society, Fairmont High School has jumped aboard the online bandwagon, following the suit of many colleges that already offer online classes. This past year, FHS developed its first online class, U.S. Government, worth half a credit.

“We launched this online website because we feel that it will be good experience for students who are planning to go to college and may possibly take online classes there,” said Jenny Richardson, the teacher managing the online government class for the first semester. “I think having online classes in high school is where it’s heading. By offering this to students now, we’re giving them a leg up.”

To access the online class, students log onto Moodle, the free online server Kettering School District uses, and do and submit work on the Internet. Students also have to meet with Richardson four times during the semester: two meetings and two tests. “I think the students think the online class is harder than they expected, but is useful because they get to direct their own learning,” she said.

Next semester, Dave Fisher is taking over for Richardson, but she’s making sure students this semester do a few more things before she hands over the reigns to Fisher. The biggest thing is to make sure students take a final exam; without one the NCAA will not accept the credit for U.S. Government for potential student athletes.

Self-motivation required

Linda Bergman, the Social Studies Department Chair, emphasizes the fact that the online government class is still a class. “You have to have time to go online; the students who are taking it must have self-motivation because it is a real course.”

Senior Luke Glazier agrees that you can’t take the online government class unless you’re self-motivated and dedicated to working hard. “There’s a lot more work than a regular class and it’s a lot more time-consuming,” Glazier said.

Glazier also talked about the class in general compared to the traditional in-the-classroom style. “Having an online class is all right. I realize it’s preparing us for what real online classes are going to be like in college. One of the big problems I have, though, is that it’s hard to get help when you need it.”

Fairmont Senior Alexis Garybush agrees. “In general, I don’t like the online class. There’s not enough student-teacher interaction,” she said. Garybush also noted that the workload varies from week to week, “but you still must log in every day.”

What does the future hold?

The big question for students and teachers alike is where is Fairmont going with this? Will online classes become more commonplace in Fairmont High School in the future and are they threatening the traditional in-the-classroom style?

“I think that since there are so many programs on Moodle as it is, this trend of strictly online classes is going to continue to grow. Perhaps eventually a normal in-the-classroom government class won’t even be offered – it’ll all be online,” said Garybush.

Fairmont Principal Dan Von Handorf thinks that online classes are necessary in preparing students for college. “Eventually, I’d like to see every student take at least one online class before they graduate.”

Although Bergman thinks the online government program is important in preparing students for their collegiate and post-collegiate futures, she still thinks that in-the-classroom teaching will remain the most essential part of high schools. “I think that online classes have their place, but I don’t think the number of online classes will ever outnumber the amount of traditional ones.”