Back when we started the Online School for Girls in 2009, we thought that online learning would be a good option for some students, but didn’t think of it as a option for all learners. That’s changed…
In 2009, online learning was more passive, had fewer options for creating meaningful connections, and was just developing good pedagogical approaches. Fast forward six years… online learning is highly interactive, more intuitive, very collaborative, increasingly personalized, and, importantly, has a well developed pedagogy. Moreover, it is increasingly recognized in order to develop students with a “lifelong love of learning” today and prepared for college, students must have experience learning online – so much of their future learning will be done this way, and more than one third of college students take an online course any given year.
All of this has led to online learning not being fringe or just a pilot in independent schools, but instead an integral part of independent schools.
Back in 2009, we used to accept as a legitimate student “excuse:” online learning isn’t a good fit for me. Today, we can’t accept that, for the good of the student and her future as a student and lifelong learner.
We all know that growth only happens when students are in that narrow space between comfortable and uncomfortable, and that a good part of our job as educators is to build the perseverance necessary for students work through challenges. So, what do you do when a student says, “Online learning isn’t a good fit for me,” and expects that you will support her request to drop the class? Help her strategize and work through the discomfort. Ask her questions, such as:
Help her realize that in so many ways the quality of her online learning experience is within her control, and help her strategize on ways to make the course experience better.
We all understand that there are legitimate reasons why a course – online or not – might not be a “good fit” for a student (over-scheduling, illness, preparedness, etc.), but the simple “out” that “online learning isn’t right for me” shouldn’t work anymore.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)