Technology in the classroom, Part 3: Distance deleted

SIDES student Rebecca Hayman does a jump during figure skating practice in Coquitlam.

SIDES student Rebecca Hayman does a jump during figure skating practice in Coquitlam.

Technology allows for a surprising range of subjects to be taught from afar

Distance eduction has long been used to teach academic subjects to students geographically separated from their classroom. But it’s also possible to teach subjects such as phys-ed online.

Rebecca Hayman, considered an “A” student in P.E., didn’t have to achieve the high score in an online basketball game or spend hours toiling in her Farmville garden on Facebook to earn the high grade.

For her online P.E. 12 class, the 17-year-old student continued her active involvement in figure skating, while also completing hand-in assignments on such topics as fitness and nutrition.

“It made it a lot easier to get the credits I needed without having to do everything a normal gym class would have, like playing basketball and soccer,” she says.

Hayman has been a part-time student at SIDES (South Island Distance Education School) for four years. SIDES offers 93 per cent of its courses online to its 4,000-plus enrolled students.

“The trend lately is geared more towards personalized learning: your path, your pace,” says SIDES principal Kevin White. “Technology is more than just a tool, it’s the medium for our students to learn.”

Erik Oinonen, one of the online phys-ed teachers at SIDES, says the course doesn’t take the form of a normal in-school gym class, where grading in individual sport units is based on performance. Instead, the course is designed to help students set personal goals and find activities in which they’re interested to get them into healthy habits.

“The building blocks of a good P.E. program are good activities that the student finds enjoyable,” he says. “We want to see improvements through the goals they set, not necessarily the time and speed that they’re doing it.”

Distance education used to be an option just for students who couldn’t attend class for one reason or another, usually health problems, travel or a demanding extracurricular schedule.

Nowadays, distance ed is also a viable alternative for students interested in taking more responsibility for their education, or students who’ve had a bad experience in a community school.

It’s also an option for high school students looking to take courses for credit that aren’t offered at their own school or for adults looking to upgrade their eduction.

Hayman used to go to school in Saanich, but moved to Coquitlam to focus on figure skating. She now attends class four hours a day on the mainland and fits her SIDES courses in when she can.

“I have spares set up so I can go to training without missing classes. On the Island, I found it hard to catch up all the time,” she says. “I usually try and do work (for my online courses) once a day, so it’s like I’m taking a class.”

The ability to be responsible for the pace of her learning is proving to be a huge benefit. She completed everything she needed for P.E. 12 in one month, despite having a full year to complete a SIDES course.

Teachers at Claremont secondary see the potential of online classes and personalized learning. The school has created a “hybrid” Planning 10 class that is part web-based, part classroom-based. Teachers Jill Marshall and Rimo Bussoli have received strong positive feedback after just one semester.

“The way teachers have used technology hasn’t changed, in the sense of trying to find something which brings the curriculum alive,” says Claremont principal Mark Fraser. “The biggest change is truly that sense of bringing the world into the classroom.”

The planning course allows students to move at their own pace – to an extent – while still having the luxury of some structure and face-to-face assistance.

“It’s the old classroom way of teaching, but introducing it with technology,” Bussoli says. “It’s the best of both worlds … and it blows the doors off a traditional classroom setting.”

But SIDES teacher Holly Mair acknowledges that online courses are not for every student, nor are they for every teacher.

“It’s the same type of workload, but there are different stresses. There’s no discipline, there’s no bell, but there are a lot more responsibilities,” she says.

Those responsibilities are worth the luxury of more free time, independence and personalized lessons, Hayman says.

“It takes a bit of getting used to, taking classes online, but it’s made it a lot easier for me to manage my time and work on my courses,” she says. “I feel like I’m taking a more active role in my education … and I don’t need to try and schedule my life around school.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Socialization network…

At any one time at the SIDES campus, there are no more than 30 kids roaming the hallways. Because the distance ed school allows its 4,000 students to work from home – or from anywhere in the world they can access the Internet – being in class doesn’t require students to physically be in class.

SIDES student Jordan Sipos, 13, does his entire course load through SIDES and actually attends the school every day (albeit only for three hours) to focus on his work.

“I find it nice working on your own. You don’t have to deal with all the drama of high school,” he says.

But SIDES students do socialize with one another. During V-Class sessions (virtual class), teachers can separate students into groups as they collaborate on projects and share ideas.

There are also picnics and meetings where online classmates meet, so long as they’re in the city.

Both Hayman and Sipos say the lack of socializing with classmates online is made up through the friendships built in the extracurricular activities that keep them busy. For Hayman that’s figure skating. For Sipos, that’s tennis, golf and judo.

SIDES teacher Rachel Morris says the atmosphere of online courses allows for a “coming together” of all types of learners.

“No one knows why you’re there. No one knows that kid’s been bullied, or that kid is brainy, or that kid struggles in a particular area,” she says. “It’s not a bad sort of anonymity.”

Just Posted

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

O.K. Industries is building a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, as shown in this map from the rezoning applicaiton. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)
Millstream Quarry wins again in court against Highlands community’s appeal

Judges rule province not obligated to investigate climate change before issuing permit

Kidspace, which took over the YMCA-YWCA childcare centre at Eagle Creek Village, plans to reopen the Y’s fitness centre as the Eagle Creek Athletic Club in September. (Photo courtesy of Kidpsace)
Former Y fitness centre in View Royal aims to reopen in September

Kidspace taking over both the gym and the childcare facility at Eagle Creek Village

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Most Read