Students Embrace Alternative Online Learning Opportunities
One unexpected consequence of the COVID 19 pandemic was that the world had to rapidly adapt to online learning. Even now, many educational opportunities remain online as students return to classrooms around the country. For instance, Hawaii Community College offers asynchronous and synchronous virtual courses where students interact with each other and professors through discussion posts, zoom meetings, and projects.
Now, Parker students have the opportunity to receive credit through non-traditional online courses such as Global Online Academy (GOA) and LanguageBird. These programs offer many niche electives like "Arts Entrepreneurship" and foreign languages such as Mandarin, Japanese, and French. These developments allow students to further individualize their course selections and increase exposure to topics not covered by traditional courses. One student reports being able to pursue their interest in finance and economics by taking a GOA course called "Introduction to Investments" last year and a microeconomics course this year.
Online courses can be completely asynchronous, meaning students are assigned homework, assessments, and lectures to complete at their own pace throughout the week, synchronous, where teachers interact with students through live instruction on a video call platform, or a combination of both. One of the most popular programs, LanguageBird, offers courses in 15 languages through live, personalized one-on-one instruction.
When asked about their experience with this format, one student reports experiencing difficulties "scheduling synchronous classes with [Parker's] rotating schedule." Other students state that the biggest struggle they've encountered in their course is the time difference between teachers and students, with one student having to work around a six hour time difference.
Even with these difficulties, however, one hundred percent of students who responded to a questionnaire about their online course report enjoying the course more than they were expecting. Some view scheduling synchronous sessions as worth the hassle because the one-on-one instruction provides extra support and the course moves at a suitable pace for each student.
On the other hand, asynchronous classes provide more flexibility, but require more accountability to ensure that coursework is completed on time. One student, who completed a GOA course with a combination of asynchronous and synchronous work, enjoyed the challenge because "it promotes responsibility to do the work and learn."
Whatever type of learner you may be, there is surely an option amongst the plethora of online courses that suits your individual learning style and interests.
March 3, 2022: The teacher of GOA's asynchronous bioethics class gives feedback on a group discussion about an unethical event involving medicine in Africa. (Myla Tsuji)