GOA Strife: Where's the Hype?

  Latin welcomes all kinds of innovative learning styles— the gameification of Ms. Landis’ Global Cities and Latin classes, reverse classrooms, the independent setup of Honors Precalculus. But one very unique classroom, which may fly under the radar for many students, is our partnership with Global Online Academy (GOA), an international and completely online school. Various Latin students, independent of what grade they’re in, take GOA classes, including myself, and some Latin teachers also act as instructors for GOA classes, like Mr. Lombardo and Ms. Wells. Students in these courses come from all over the globe, as long as they go to a GOA partner school; in my class alone, there are students from Hawaii, Portland, Los Angeles, New York, Beijing, and Jordan, among others. All of us, no matter our location, complete the same readings and assignments, and occasionally meet for group Skype sessions that pose a serious logistical challenge. Besides the fact that the class is online, based on a system called Canvas that is quite similar to Romannet, my Gender Studies class is not particularly different from a typical class at Latin— we have a couple of readings a week, along with quizzes and essays, and also have class discussions and debates, which take place through online forums where we can post video responses or simply type. Mr Graf described that “Given how curious Latin students are about the rest of the world, GOA seemed like a good fit.” My GOA experience has been both positive and enjoyable, and most other students I spoke to had similar experiences. Sofia Mendieta, a sophomore who is taking Japanese on GOA, described that the focus on projects and mixed media assignments, and the different classroom and studying approaches, are particularly helpful for her and her visual learning style. She also described how her particular situation, taking both French and Japanese, “could only happen because I am taking a GOA class”. But certainly not all experiences are positive. As both Sophia and myself recognize, the class depends tremendously on the teacher. While my instructor, whose home school is in Kansas City, posts assignments consistently and works to make the class unique, that is not always the case. A senior, for example, told me how her GOA teacher disappeared mid-semester, not posting any new assignments and leaving the students hanging. Perhaps the sheer unpredictability is why GOA classes don’t count for any credit through departments, something which Sofia expressed confusion about. She explained that “there are tests, there are quizzes, there are exams that you have to study for. It’s not just for fun.” For the both of us, our online class takes up a significant portion of our time (which a free period can help with), despite the fact that it doesn’t work towards our history or language requirements. It does, however, count for elective credit, an arrangement which is “typical” for most of the other partner schools. Maybe that’s the most unique thing about Global Online Academy classes, beyond the fact that they are online: the students who take them do so because they are legitimately interested in the topic, acknowledging the extra work and lack of school credit but choosing to take the course anyway. GOA is a great opportunity to interact with passionate students from around the world, and to learn more about how education and the internet can build off of one another to create something amazing.]]>