As society becomes more rapid, with new young workers constantly being trained, the demand for effective independent learning becomes stronger and stronger. Modern online classrooms present a different flavor of learning than traditional, yet are equal or even more suited to schools’ ultimate goal: providing opportunities for students to mature into educated academics, workers, and citizens.
I would describe my online classroom experience through the Virtual High School as rich, provocative, and demanding of the individual. I chose to study Physics and Computer Science—both have encouraged me more than my traditional classes to research real-world applications, use resources to fill gaps in my knowledge, and consistently communicate with peers and teachers. In traditional classrooms I sometimes delude myself that my classmates’ or my teachers’ confidence in the subject is my own. Stripped of social emotion, the online class, far from losing the personal touch, gains effectiveness, and builds self-reliance, a critical quality today.
Having taken physics in my high school, I find the online class is superior. For instance, asking questions, one of the most important needs of a student, is elevated tenfold in the online class: first, separate forums allow many questions to run concurrently, without disturbing class; second, students take time to craft thoughtful posts of questions and responses, improving discussion quality and the students’ learning.
My personal experience shows, also, how online classes can bridge learning gaps. My school has struggled to build a strong physics department; we only have two teachers and few higher-level classes available. With advanced online options, I can pursue my interest in science and gain qualifications for my college career. Online classes have honed my time-management, enhanced my communication, and most importantly, provided me with a richer, more involved experience than I ever would have expected—for that I am grateful.
Pomperaug High School
Massachusetts Institute of Technology