Can the Classroom Experience be Overshadowed by Technology?

Amanda Navarro, Staff Writer

Imagine you are sitting on your lounge chair overlooking your pool. You take out your laptop and log into your online class. You read and take notes on the latest psychology lesson. Then, you ask your sister if you can test her memory for the unit project. You end your online class with handing in your lab write-up assignment and participating in an end-of-course discussion in the class forum.

Taking online classes is becoming a trend for student in high school and colleges around the nation. In the state of Florida for students entering ninth grade in the 2011-2012 school year, at least one course must be taken online to satisfy graduation requirements. ODA has not taken a stand on this issue, but is beginning to ask questions about the fit of online learning with the school’s goals and objectives.

ODA is launching its first attempt of an online course for an upperclassman who could not fit LMS into her schedule. Coach Stone will be guiding her through the online course, stating “she will be meet with fifteen to twenty minutes to review the work. However, this course is more like an independent study while pulling the info online.”

“Yes, I did design this course. I took a few graduate classes and applied what I learned into making this course. In this online LMS class, I will have the ability to post lectures, power points with audio, and videos so that it will feel more like an in-class experience.”

Even though Coach Stone is willing to let an upperclassmen take it, she says “I don’t think I would want to do let a ninth grader do this. They tend to be really shy. If they don’t have that face-to-face luxury, I’m afraid they will not ask things. It also comes down to being responsible.”

Despite Coach Stone’s enthusiasm to test out the online class world, she says the “classroom experience is too much, too beneficial to give up.” She also states “If the kid is passionate about something that isn’t offered here, like mechanics, and a teacher is willing to work with them–then I could see that working.”

Another benefit Coach Stone finds is the exposure that it will give ODA students. “The one thing I would like to add is that I’m using a course site that a lot of universities are using. My student will be exposed to this site that she may see in college.  This site is like our portal…but on steroids.”

Instead of waiting until ODA decides more formally about the role of online learning, why not experiment with taking an online course not offered at ODA? You can do this by going to the Florida Virtual School website ( and selecting one or more free courses. Some courses offered are Psychology I, Marine Science, Spanish for Spanish Speakers, Chinese, Sociology, Law Studies, Guitar I, or Economics. If you are interested in enrolling in a course, consider these students’ experiences.

Caitlyn Durfee, senior, recounts her experience in taking Spanish I in Florida Virtual School. She was less than impressed with the lack of structure and discipline. “You could take as long as you want on an assignment as long as you finished the course within a certain time.” Caitlyn also states “I was told by my teacher that this course was created for the kids who were forced to take Spanish but really didn’t want to. So, they made [the course] really simple.”

Besides the simplicity of the course, Caitlyn states “they had a large cultural section. They would expect us to know how the weather in Argentina is different from the weather in other South American countries.” Therefore, Caitlyn says the course “was less about learning the language.” When asked about her overall experience, she states “If I thought back to this experiment, I would not take another online class.”

So would you take an online class? Have any particular experiences you would like to share on FLVS. Comment below!