Mar 02 2008

Online Courses Not for Everyone

It shouldn’t be sur­pris­ing to any­one that edu­ca­tion is not a “one size fits all” endeav­or, online or else­where. This bit about learn­ing styles, how­ev­er, did sur­prise me:

Cor­re­la­tions between learn­ing styles and suc­cess in dis­tance edu­ca­tion have shown to be incon­clu­sive,” Strick­land1 said. “How­ev­er, one com­mon theme reap­pears: the suc­cess­ful traits of a dis­tance learn­er are sim­i­lar to the suc­cess­ful traits of an adult learn­er in tra­di­tion­al edu­ca­tion­al set­tings.”

The arti­cle claims that there’s “a mere 30 per­cent of dis­tance learn­ers actu­al­ly com­plet­ing their cours­es.” It goes on to men­tion that “Dis­tance learn­ing allows the learn­er to over­come tra­di­tion­al bar­ri­ers to learn­ing such as loca­tion, dis­abil­i­ties, time con­straints and famil­ial oblig­a­tions,” but I’m won­der­ing how much they real­ly paid atten­tion to the fact that those of us who enroll in online class­es are often those who have the most bar­ri­ers to stay­ing in school? I take such cours­es because of phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, but I’ve still had to drop my class­es repeat­ed­ly because of ill­ness. There are still dead­lines, and in fact some online cours­es are “com­pressed,” mak­ing dead­lines even more impor­tant.

Strick­land also men­tions “the lack of insti­tu­tion­al sup­port and iso­la­tion involved in the nature of online cours­es.” I’m not sure what kind of sup­port is miss­ing, com­pared to face-to-face class­es, but maybe that’s because I’ve nev­er sought out any “insti­tu­tion­al sup­port.” Does she mean tutor­ing?

At one point, though, Strick­land refers to “intro­vert­ed per­son­al­i­ties” and “shy indi­vid­u­als” as (appar­ent­ly) being syn­ony­mous, and not get­ting involved in the typ­i­cal class­room set­ting. That’s a pet peeve of mine. Intro­verts are not nec­es­sar­i­ly shy! We’re self-con­tained, and most of us usu­al­ly put more weight on our own val­u­a­tions than those of oth­ers, so we aren’t as vul­ner­a­ble to peer pres­sure. I miss good class­room dis­cus­sions, as I’ve nev­er seen any online class that has man­aged to pro­voke any­thing close. But then, I didn’t expe­ri­ence any good dis­cus­sions in face-to-face class­es at DeVry, and very, very few at SPSU. In fact, I heard more than a few of my fel­low stu­dents at SPSU com­plain­ing about non-tra­di­tion­al stu­dents, in par­tic­u­lar, want­i­ng to “talk too much” in class. They clear­ly want­ed less dis­cus­sion, not more!

Quotes from Researcher Finds Not Every­one Can Suc­cess­ful­ly Learn Through Online Cours­es, Despite Their Pop­u­lar­i­ty


1 Shaw­na L. Strick­land, clin­i­cal assis­tant pro­fes­sor in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri School of Health Pro­fes­sions


Jan 19 2008

Homeschooling High School in College?

It’s be SO long since I updat­ed things here! Not that I think any­body real­ly missed me, but still, I should have kept it up a bit bet­ter.

Katie tried attend­ing a good high school near us, and loved it. She got great grades, was cho­sen to work on the year­book (it’s a very com­pet­i­tive process there), and was even made the chief pho­tog­ra­ph­er right away! She was also get­ting involved in oth­er activ­i­ties, and she made some good friends. She real­ly loved the art class­es, in par­tic­u­lar.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, her health suf­fered. She has severe rest­less leg syn­drome, fibromyal­gia (which caus­es sleep prob­lems), and tru­ly hor­rif­ic migraines in addi­tion to being aller­gic to all kinds of things. The migraines aren’t well-man­aged any more, so that she has a migraine almost every day despite tak­ing Trilep­tal as a pre­ven­tive. She’s had to use her res­cue med­i­cine so much that it’s no longer very help­ful, either. She just can’t get any decent sleep, thanks to the RLS and fibro, which means that she needs a min­i­mum of ten to twelve hours every night, and still wakes up unrest­ed. And our insur­ance has gone stu­pid, repeat­ed­ly refus­ing to cov­er her aller­gy med­ica­tions, in par­tic­u­lar. 1 Right now, they’re refus­ing to cov­er Provig­il, which was the only thing keep­ing her awake enough to even con­sid­er attend­ing school. She’s under doctor’s orders to stop dri­ving until the sleep sit­u­a­tion is ame­lio­rat­ed, and has been for some time, so she’s been delayed in learn­ing to dri­ve and get­ting her license.

So she’s back at home, which is a real dis­ap­point­ment to her. We’ve decid­ed to try mak­ing the best of it, and focus on the good things. For instance, she’s no longer held back to any­one else’s learn­ing pace, and she doesn’t have to jump through bureau­crat­ic hoops. She can learn when­ev­er she is awake, hon­or­ing her body’s need for more sleep than most peo­ple.

She wants to take col­lege class­es online, which is how I’m man­ag­ing to con­tin­ue my edu­ca­tion despite health prob­lems. I think it’s a good idea, so now we’re con­sid­er­ing schools and mon­ey. While the Uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem schools here in Geor­gia tech­ni­cal­ly have all their core class­es online, the real­i­ty when I attend­ed South­ern Poly was that the entire school usu­al­ly had only one or two seats for any par­tic­u­lar course, and of course those seats were tak­en imme­di­ate­ly.

We’d love to hear about the expe­ri­ences of any oth­er home­schooled teens who are fin­ish­ing high school in col­lege, par­tic­u­lar­ly those who are tak­ing class­es online.

Her even­tu­al goal is art school, and while there is a local school that has an online pro­gram, I just don’t see how it’s pos­si­ble to learn some things through the inter­net. Nei­ther does she. So we’re also look­ing for good art class­es to sup­ple­ment what­ev­er she does online. We’re in Decatur, and since nei­ther she nor I are dri­ving, close is good. MARTA acces­si­bil­i­ty is absolute­ly nec­es­sary!


1 hey insist that every­body should be just fine with Clar­itin, which is avail­able over-the-counter. Not so!


Jan 19 2007

Katie’s Fall Report Card

Tag:Tag , , , Cyn @ 22:21

We got Katie’s report card in, and she did in fact get all As!

She’s well in to the next semes­ter now. Because every­body else was reg­is­tered for this year last spring, the advanced physics course was full and she’s in the “nor­mal” physics course. She is crazy bored. I mean, this is seri­ous­ly the first time I’ve won­dered if she’ll get in trou­ble because she’s so bored! Her teacher has nev­er taught before this semes­ter, and isn’t doing a good job of man­ag­ing the class to start with, so respond­ing to the needs of faster stu­dents seems to be absolute­ly out of the ques­tion. So far they’re just review­ing the sim­plest alge­bra need­ed to even begin talk­ing about physics!

It’s things like the physics class that make me want to snatch her right back home.

On the oth­er hand, her art and world his­to­ry class­es are won­der­ful, and they’re beyond what I could do for her. She’s get­ting a bet­ter ground­ing than I could ever give her in geom­e­try, as well—because, frankly, I detest­ed that class and got an A in it by the grace of a dirty old man called “Coach.” (And he and teach­ers like him were among the rea­sons I want­ed to home­school! Not that any­body ever had to do any­thing with that par­tic­u­lar one but lean over his desk the right way, thank­ful­ly.)

So she has Very Bad Things to say about physics each day, but is oth­er­wise hap­py. I expect that her grades will be every bit as good this semes­ter.


Jan 02 2007

Katie, Me and Schools

Tag:Tag , , , , , Cyn @ 15:36

Well, we’re wait­ing for Katie’s final grades for fall semes­ter while enjoy­ing win­ter break for both of us. We had Sam home for the first half of our breaks with us, but unfor­tu­nate­ly work­ing for a school isn’t quite as lux­u­ri­ous as being a stu­dent.

Katie has had most­ly As in her progress reports across the term, so I expect that should be what we see on her report card. We’re work­ing on an alge­bra refresh­er/wrap-up here at home, as she’ll be going into geom­e­try at school when she goes back next week. I don’t hon­est­ly recall using a great deal of alge­bra in geom­e­try, do you? Of course, I absolute­ly loathed geom­e­try and nev­er “got it” to any real extent. This doesn’t bode well for home­work help this semes­ter.

She has tru­ly loved her art class. While she has had more access to art sup­plies at home than I ever had in school or out­side it, and I’ve tak­en her to a fair num­ber of muse­ums and tried to give her some ground­ing in art his­to­ry, I’m no artist. She’s learned more in that one art class than I could have ever taught her, and she’s hun­gry for more. So hun­gry! I should have giv­en her access to art class­es ear­li­er, obvi­ous­ly — but hind­sight is 20/20. She wants to take sum­mer school class­es this year, and I’m even more in favor of it if it means she can con­tin­ue her pur­suit of art.

I’ve already got­ten my grades. The fan­tas­tic sup­port I’ve got­ten from Sam and Katie made it pos­si­ble for me to get As in both of my cours­es for the first half of fall semes­ter. The sec­ond half of fall semes­ter (Devry does things odd­ly) starts on 8 Jan­u­ary. I’m tak­ing all my cours­es online again, as that works bet­ter for the fam­i­ly and my ridicu­lous body.

Oh, I near­ly for­got! We got the results back from Katie’s first PSAT. She didn’t do so great in the math, which isn’t sur­pris­ing, not hav­ing had any geom­e­try yet. She didn’t do too bad­ly on it either—84th per­centile, some­thing like that, as I recall. She ran out of time on that sec­tion. She was in the mid to upper 90s on every­thing else. We were a bit con­cerned, because the coun­selor at the high school couldn’t be arsed to get Katie’s accom­mo­da­tions in place in time for the test, but obvi­ous­ly it turned out quite well any­way. The accom­mo­da­tions will be in place and she will have passed geom­e­try before she takes it “for real” next fall, when it counts as the Nation­al Mer­it Schol­ar­ship Qual­i­fy­ing Test.

Well, back to “stor­ing up” sleep and tak­ing pic­tures of every­thing, most espe­cial­ly spoiled lit­tle Kiyoshi the solar-pow­ered cat. I miss spend­ing this much time with Katie on a dai­ly basis. It was much nicer, but she does love her school. She is obvi­ous­ly ener­gized by the aca­d­e­m­ic dis­course, even by dis­agree­ing with an annoy­ing teacher. She was ready to try out her wings, and we had a good school near­by where she could do so. I’m glad we could go back to home­school­ing if we chose to or need­ed to do so, but I’m glad the fledgling’s flight is going so well, too.


Nov 12 2006

Grades for the girl

Tag:Tag , , Cyn @ 12:04

I haven’t men­tioned how Katie is doing in a while. While there have been some adjust­ment issues switch­ing over to “school” from home­school­ing, she’s got all As. The “life by the bell” thing has been a nui­sance, and she and one of her teach­ers just do not com­mu­ni­cate on the same wave­length, but she’s deal­ing with it. She adores her art class, some­thing I’m def­i­nite­ly not equipped to teach at all.

Two of her three aca­d­e­m­ic class­es are advanced, and the third would be but was already over­crowd­ed when we reg­is­tered her for class­es. So much for hav­ing trou­ble going into high school as a home­school­er.

The sched­ule isn’t easy on her body or the fam­i­ly, but again, she’s deal­ing. She does have increased fibromyal­gia symp­toms as a result, and has had to add a dai­ly nap to her sched­ule after school.

One of the most dif­fi­cult issues is hav­ing cer­tain lines of dis­cus­sion “off lim­its.” That’s just too weird, after years of being encour­aged to fol­low her inter­ests and inquiries wher­ev­er they lead. While she’s attend­ing a rel­a­tive­ly lib­er­al school, the fact that it is a school means that there are con­straints on sub­ject mat­ter.

Her lit­er­a­ture teacher referred to chasti­ty belts as a medieval urban leg­end ear­li­er in the year, and when she start­ed explain­ing just how very wrong he was, he slammed the dis­cus­sion to a close. If the man is going to be so slop­py with his facts, he shouldn’t be sur­prised when he encoun­ters dis­agree­ment!

Sam and I met some­one yes­ter­day who said, “Advanced class­es are how we seg­re­gate these days.” I point­ed out that they cer­tain­ly aren’t new, as my own class of 1984 was tracked into advanced, reg­u­lar, and reme­di­al (although the last two weren’t called that, pre­cise­ly) tracks, too. I found it an inter­est­ing state­ment, but we were in the mid­dle of Charis Books and dis­cussing many things, and didn’t get to pur­sue that one as far as I’d hoped. What do you think of it?


Nov 05 2006

The “S” Word

Tag:Tag , Cyn @ 16:19

I just want­ed to post a link to an inter­est­ing but very basic arti­cle about social­iza­tion, since it con­tin­ues to be some­thing idiots bring up regard­ing home­school­ing.


Oct 29 2006

Will we regret homeschooling later?

Tag:Tag Cyn @ 22:01

I don’t think so, hon­est­ly. And, if she’s any­thing like those who par­tic­i­pat­ed in a recent sur­vey, I don’t think Katie will, either.

…accord­ing to “Home­school­ing Grows Up,” a research study on adults who were home­schooled, 74 per­cent of those who were home­schooled are cur­rent­ly home­school­ing their own children.…The “Home­school­ing Grows Up” sur­vey said that out of the more than 5,000 sur­veyed, 95 per­cent say they are glad they were home­schooled and 92 per­cent say hav­ing been home­schooled is an advan­tage to them as adults.

From Are home­school­ers pre­pared for the real world?


Sep 17 2006

Learning by Doing

An awe­some arti­cle by Seed mag­a­zine (my cur­rent favorite mag­a­zine!) about learn­ing by doing. Appar­ent­ly that’s how we learn best. When we learn by doing, we retain the infor­ma­tion we’ve learned much bet­ter than if it’s pre­sent­ed to us in an abstract way.

How We Know: What do an alge­bra teacher, Toy­ota and a clas­si­cal musi­cian have in com­mon?


Sep 13 2006

The Myth About Homework

Tag:Tag , Cyn @ 16:28

As the days go by, Katie’s time gets more and more pre­cious. I’m not the only one who is miss­ing lazy days of cud­dling up to do our lessons togeth­er at our own pace, doing as much as is need­ed and no more, then going on to Girl Scouts or dance or friends.

Every night, every week­end is full of more and more home­work. Some of it is very obvi­ous­ly work for the sake of assign­ing home­work. She has four class­es, and only two of the teach­ers assign home­work. I can’t begin to imag­ine when she’d sleep if she were tak­ing four “seri­ous” cours­es, but we’ll know next semes­ter, when she adds a third one.

So this arti­cle real­ly hit home. It’s some­thing we railed about when Sam’s chil­dren lived with us, and now it’s an issue for our fam­i­ly again.

Think hours of slog­ging are help­ing your child make the grade? Think again

Too much home­work brings dimin­ish­ing returns. Cooper’s analy­sis of dozens of stud­ies found that kids who do some home­work in mid­dle and high school score some­what bet­ter on stan­dard­ized tests, but doing more than 60 to 90 min. a night in mid­dle school and more than 2 hr. in high school is asso­ci­at­ed with, gulp, low­er scores.

I sup­pose it’s time to start cam­paign­ing, which means first get­ting involved in oth­er ways. You can’t walk in with a com­plaint and expect to be heard very well if you haven’t already estab­lished your­self as a pos­i­tive asset.


Sep 04 2006

Quote of the day, happy half hour

We wor­ry about what a child will be tomor­row, yet we for­get that he is some­one today.” — Sta­cia Tausch­er, quot­ed in The Change Your Life Chal­lenge by Brooke Noel.

One of Noel’s sug­ges­tions is to have a reg­u­lar “hap­py half hour” with your fam­i­ly. Set up fresh fruit or oth­er health snacks, pour cups of juice or some sort of drinks they like, and set apart that time for every­one, kids and adults, to con­nect in a pos­i­tive way. No “must do” talk, no down­ers, no com­plain­ing — just good stuff. Encour­age each oth­er, express your grat­i­tude for each oth­er and the good things in your lives, share your joys, and catch up with each oth­er.

Home­school­ing fam­i­lies sel­dom need that as much as some oth­ers do, but it can’t hurt, can it? There’s nev­er a bad time to share some hap­pi­ness with our fam­i­lies.


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