People often think that learning in an online school will be easier than learning in a traditional brick and mortar institution. It isn’t a matter of easiness, though. It is important that we realize that learning online and learning within a brick and mortar classroom are completely different experiences. One is not easier than the other; each space has its unique affordances and constraints, and understanding what you need is the key to knowing whether online learning is right for you.
Years ago I came across this image.
I was struck by what this image conveyed: that online learning should be easy, comfortable, and quick enough that I can do it in my pajamas before I start my “real” duties in life. In fact, learning – online or otherwise – is rarely easy, often uncomfortable, and takes time as one digests information, synthesizes it, relates it to what they have learned in the past, and applies it in new and different situations.
Unlike a brick-and-mortar school where a student’s time is structured for them, online learning at IU High School offers a robust learning experience unconstrained by a bell schedule. And while this flexibility is useful for the student healing from illness and the student travelling the world as a professional athlete, this freedom comes with responsibility. Students enrolled in IU High School’s online courses must
- be disciplined in their studies. Truly learning something and internalizing it so that the information can be used in daily life can be really difficult and takes time. At IU High School, we value the student’s ability to apply the notes they have been given and the concepts they have learned to real life endeavors. Our courses are built such that a student can work through assignments, apply the feedback they receive to new submissions, and engage with their teacher to discuss concepts. This means that IU High School students must be disciplined and commit to the courses in which they enroll. They must be willing to engage with the content and with the teacher, asking questions and using the feedback they received within the course (and across courses) to build and strengthen their skills with each submission.
- possess and develop time management skills. Keep a calendar. Put it somewhere noticeable and update it often. School schedules are developed purposely, and help students manage their time. Just as you might keep the school calendar on your refrigerator, keeping the calendar of the student’s study plan is vital for success. When learning in an online space, the burden of creating that schedule falls to the student and their family, though we at IU High School are happy to work with you to develop a schedule for tackling coursework. Contact us for help in creating a schedule for completing the coursework within the timeframe allotted.
- take part in their own learning and ask questions. In a brick-and-mortar setting, the teacher can watch a student’s facial expressions and body language to assess whether a student is confused, frustrated, or ready to move to the next level of learning. This is not the case in an online situation. IU High School is an asynchronous online institution, which means that students are never required to meet for class at the same time. Teachers cannot see students when they are struggling, so we encourage students and families to reach out to their teachers and ask questions. From seemingly small questions to large areas of confusion or success, we want our students to talk to us. IU High School teachers are always willing to speak with students via email, phone, or Zoom. Our staff and administration are here to help as well. We will reach out to you, and encourage you to reach out to us as well.
When deciding whether online learning is for you or your child, consider the reasons this student wants to take courses online. Learning online at IU High School is simply learning in a digital environment. The decision to make is whether IU High School can provide the flexibility in time and space that allows a student to succeed when they might not in a more constrained setting.
Learning in your PJs? Sure. But learn with intention, and with the expectation that what you learn at IU High School will be useful and usable throughout your life.
Is IU High School right for you? Let’s find out! Contact us at IUHS@indiana.edu, visit our website, peruse our course catalog, and get started with our Prep for Success at IU’s Online High School course!
Questions? Reach out to us! We look forward to learning with you!