TutaPoint Online Education Blog
Posted By Ryan Duques
The Elmira Alternative High School is situated in a rambling, old elementary school nestled in the Southern Tier of upstate New York. We educate students that, for a variety of reasons, have not adapted to the traditional school setting. Our class sizes are small, and our staff is very dedicated to these students.
Decision to Use Online Courses for Students
Last fall, we were introduced to the idea of online learning. We all had some trouble wrapping our minds around the idea that someone could teach our students from a distance in a virtual classroom. We wondered if such a thing could work with our students. As alternative educators, we were prepared to think out of the box and consider this option, but we approached the concept with caution, as we were skeptical that someone from another state could possibly prepare our students for the rigorous New York State Regents Exams.
It took several months to get the technical “kinks” worked out so that we could even attempt to try online learning. Finally, last spring, we introduced online classes in our alternative school and in our night school programs. We soon made some interesting observations.
Different Results for Different Learners
Some students forged ahead and completed courses in record time, while others didn’t move forward at all. These non-movers became frustrated and quickly stopped trying the online approach. Initially, we thought that it was because of some difference in the students’ learning style, personality, etc.
Instructional Tutorials Spell Increased Student Success
But we’ve observed this fall that the key to helping students experience success with online learning is to be certain that they get through the instructional tutorial. This is taking some skill in coaching our students through it, but we’ve noticed that once they are through the instructional phase, they are much more prepared to move ahead with the classes.
Online Courses Offer Broader Options for Students
The more we use the online option, the more we realize how helpful it is. We are able to offer students in our relatively limited academic setting many more course options. Other buildings in our district are starting to use these courses, and it seems to be spreading like wildfire. We are still learning how to help students adapt to this new medium, but with each success, we think this option might just change the future of education.
About the School: The Elmira Alternative High School is located in the old “Washington Elementary School” at 222 W. Washington Ave, Elmira, New York. The school is staffed to accommodate 45 students. There are 5 teachers, one secretary, a principal, a teaching assistant, one custodian and a part-time lunch lady.
About the Author: Connie Young has been a High School Guidance Counselor since 1990. Most of my career has been spent working with At Risk Students in Alternative settings. Ms. Young spends three days a week at the Elmira Alternative High School.
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