Global Online Academy Creates a New Learning Experience

Hedy Gutfreund

Editorials Editor[gallery] For my classmate in Hawaii, a commute to Pennsylvania would be about 10 hours by plane. For me, it would probably be ten hours by car. But both of us take the same class, taught by a teacher in Pennsylvania, from the comfort of our own schools via the Global Online Academy. This system, which currently comprises a consortium of sixteen independent schools, gives Latin students a chance to have teachers and classmates from around the country and the world. This semester, some Latin students, including me, opted to take an elective from the Global Online Academy. The current courses on Global Online Academy are Media Studies, Global Health, Urban Studies, Math for Computer Science, and Spanish. Next year, many more classes are offered and are a part of the 2012-2013 course catalog. From Bioethics to French Hip-Hop, the classes for next year offer an even wider range of areas to study. Because the courses are part of a regular load, it was difficult for students to fit it into their course load this year, but Latin will hopefully make a bigger presence next year in the online classes. Senior Shawn Farshi, who takes the Spanish language class, took it as a replacement for his Spanish 5 conversation class. “I wanted a different learning experience. It was a fun and unique way to practice my Spanish and meet new people simultaneously,” he says. Shawn does note, however, that it was a bit hard for the students to all stay at the same pace when in an online course, because they all had different goals for Spanish improvement outside of the class. Personally, I had a great experience with my class as well, though taking an online class is inherently different from taking a regular class. I took Media Studies, which was unique from any class Latin offers in that it has an interdisciplinary focus. I found that Media Studies lent itself very easily to the online format. The website we use, called Haiku, is similar to RomanNet in many ways, and my teacher posted videos and other media she wanted us to see. We had readings, like in any other class, and we would often Skype with our teacher and other students. I had a great time Skyping with some of my classmates, and the discussions we had on our own were comparable to discussions in a real classroom. The online discussions were also lively, even though they would span days or even weeks. The only true downfall of the class was that sometimes we wouldn’t all be on the same page for a unit since the classes don’t “meet” regularly, but eventually we all caught up. Latin is known for unique learning experiences, and with our induction into the Global Online Academy students can use technology to explore beyond the walls of the Latin building. The online experience preps us for a world where we’ll need to collaborate with people from around the world, and it will continue to allow Latin students to make personal connections with classmates and teachers out of Latin’s boundaries.]]>