I used to make the argument that it was essential for secondary school students to take an online course before heading off to college. At some level, given the number of students who take online courses at the college level, I think that is right. But, I don’t believe that thinking is complete anymore, nor is it descriptive enough of the rationale for online course work.
Taking an online course just for the sake of learning online misses the point. And, if you listen to students, their parents, and teachers involved in online courses, it becomes more clear.
Listening to these voices has helped us to re-define the competency and has also helped us be more purposeful in this work – establishing it as a core competency for all students in our course to master. We’ve restated this competency as “gaining academic maturity.”
Gaining academic maturity: Courses are scaffolded to promote iteration and designed to reward persistence. Students practice responsibility, intellectual adaptability, interpersonal flexibly, self-regulation and organization, and a range of communication skills. Because students are given voice and choice in how they access new knowledge, practice new skills, and self-assess for understanding, they set measurable goals around efficiency and effectiveness.
This competency along with the one that I wrote about last month – “Engaging Constructively in a Diverse and Changing World" – form the core of our work with students, and the promise that we make to schools that engage their students in our online courses: your students will work towards these competencies, and we will support them in their journey to master them.
Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)