Courses available to GDHS students

Virtual gamut of courses available to GDHS students

by Marie Williams-Gagnon, Transcript & Free Press

Some consider the internet as simply a tool for entertainment or communication but students at Glencoe District High School are using the technology to access a plethora of learning opportunities.

GDHS guidance department head Karen Kading says that e-learning provides a great opportunity for students at smaller, rural schools by delivering online courses to students.
In the first semester, 13 GDHS students were taking 14 courses and in the second semester nine are taking the equivalent of 13 courses. These students may have had scheduling conflicts, not been able to access the course they wanted or possibly only need one or two credits for graduation.

Kading explains that they try to provide students with the courses at the school or through the Thames Valley District School Board virtual academy first but, if unavailable, they resort to courses offered from the over 20 other Boards in the Ontario eLearning Centre (OeLC).

In this semester, students would have the option to take one of 12 business, 12 history, four law, three media studies, 23 English, two French, eight social science, 10 computer, 17 science, 21 math, three phys. ed, two peer tutoring or one communication technology courses.

The elearning students are required to participate in discussions, tutorials, group work, online chats and assignments, using the internet as a tool for their studies. A teacher, who also is in charge of regular high school classes, instruct the online classes. No different from a regular classroom, attendance is taken through active participation and all student activity is monitored.

Interested students are registered through their guidance counsellor over the summer but Kading warns that this method of learning is not for everyone. Students should have good technology skills, good initiative, work habits and have a spare study period in which to work on the courses. A computer is made available for students to work on while at school but some work is required at home, necessitating a high speed internet connection.

Kading explains that the elearning opportunities are not the only alternatives for students. Presently, GDHS is involved in videoconferencing with West Elgin Secondary School. A GDHS teacher instructs a 4U physics class and a West Elgin teacher is instructing a 4U calculus and vectors math course. A classroom is set up at both schools with two screens allowing students to see the other classroom as well as their instructor.

In other instances, some students are taking night school classes in London in an effort to upgrade marks or deal with scheduling conflicts. Kading herself offers to drive any students to the learning centre at Wheable and have parents pick them up.

The traditional correspondence courses of yesteryear are still available to those 18 and over who are completing courses out of school.

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