By: Bin Lin
Not many Howard County students have realized that there have been a handful of classes taken online. At Hammond High School there are not only language classes online, but high level math classes are offered as well.
The way online classes operate is fairly simple. First both the teacher and the students create an account to access Zoom, a screen-sharing app. Then they are to bring their electronic devices (or one will be provided by the school) in order to join the Zoom app using the account they have created. Once the students have joined the session they will be greeted by their teacher and may also see other students that are learning on the program at the same time. Some classes will also have an Instructional Assistant who helps the students in an online class if they have questions related to the class curriculum.
Taking online classes may seem daunting at first, but there have been many instances where the students and their teachers have worked well in the online community moreso than in an actual classroom. Senior Akash Chauhan has expressed that online classes gives a chance for students to pace themselves, “I think it is a really good experience. You have to learn how to…keep yourself disciplined and do the assignments on time and [you have to] be able to learn by yourself .” He also strongly encourages students to take more online classes because “…[you can] take classes that aren’t necessarily offered at Hammond.”
Mrs. Tai, a Chinese teacher from Long Reach High School, is currently teaching Chinese I to students at Hammond from the Zoom app. From a teacher’s viewpoint of online classes, Mrs. Tai has stated that teaching an online class is certainly challenging but also commented that “I always think the online experience will be much better if all the students are online. As a result, the teacher could answer all the questions from the online students without interference”.
With classes being online some may ask whether or not it provides the same curriculum as a real class. To answer this, Mrs. Tai said “I can only say that the online class offers a chance for students who are really interested to learn Chinese…I still think there would be some benefits if the teacher put everything online and the students are extremely motivated to learn. It’s just too much work for the teachers and it’s also hard to motivate students without [in-person interaction].”
While there are some very good benefits to taking online classes, there are also some major flaws with the system. Jacob Williamson, a junior taking Italian II online, stated that “At first I thought it was a cool idea but I was also a little confused, concerning about the idea of not having a real teacher… I don’t have a teacher that I can talk to face to face.” Another student named Kosta Magoulas also seemed to have the same opinion as Williamson because Magoulas has taken Chinese I and is now taking Chinese II. However, there is a different teacher teaching Chinese II. Magoulas has made the comment “there are different teaching styles when you get a different teacher, so it is hard when you switch up the teacher.” In addition, Magoulas has stated his opinion on what he wishes to see improved for an online class, “if there are enough students in an online class they should be transferred into a class with teachers… if people are willing do this and invest their time in it, I feel that if they want to learn a new language that is not being taught [at Hammond] they will be able to take an online class.”
The students are not alone in their online school endeavors. They are still able to work in an environment with some of the same features as a usual classroom. The students taking online classes work alongside their classmates within a regular classroom, and even have the added opportunity of working in classes with a smaller number of students. This allows them to gain an understanding of the topic they are studying in a somewhat independent way as well as allows them to divulge into the material and discuss it in further detail.
However, though there is more independence in online classes, there are also Instructional Assistants who are in the classroom, helping the students with their studies.
Though there are both advantages and disadvantages to taking online classes, it is a good opportunity for Hammond Students to experience a different way of learning as well as learn a language or topic which they would not be able to normally take if there was not an online option.