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.


« Previous PageNext Page »