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!