Jamie and fellow sophomore Emma Groff, 15, along with junior Kaley Bean, 17, decided to study alternative foreign languages this year. Emma is taking Latin via an online course, and Kaley is taking a second-semester French course.
Eleven other students are finishing two college-level English courses coordinated through Ivy Tech. The instructor for that class is on the East Coast.
“We just don’t have the student body to support a lot of AP classes, but I wanted to get a lot of college credit,” said Kaley.
This year, she’s taking online advanced placement classes in composition and U.S. history in addition to the French course, adding up to nine college credits. She plans to complete the college-level English sequence next year for another six credits.
Participation in online courses at other schools is generally limited to remedial work. However, one student at Lewis Cass High School is on track to earn almost a year’s worth of college credits through online courses, said principal Bill Isaacs. That school is exploring how it can expand its use of online courses.
Students in online courses learn from a varying combination of reading assignments and recorded lectures. Most quizzes and tests are administered online, too, and instructors can use class-only chat rooms, instant messaging or email to answer questions.
The students at Pioneer stick with email for asking questions since being online at the same time as the instructor is difficult to work out.
But the communication is not ideal.
“I like to be able to physically tell the teacher what I want,” said Jessica Galbreath, 18, who’s taking the college English sequence.
“If I could see her while I’m asking questions, I feel like I would understand better.”
One chemistry student in an online advanced-placement course said her online experience had been “crazy,” though she’d still take the course if she had it do to over.