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!