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Students now able to take AP Statistics, Computer Apps online
October 21st, 2014


Students now able to take AP Statistics, Computer Apps online
Written by: Jamie Williams ‘15 (Golden Lines staff writer)

As St. Pius X continues to embrace technology each year, it was only a matter of time before online classes were introduced to the curriculum. As one of the latest academic trends to hit high schools nationwide, offering online classes will help St. Pius stay on pace with other schools in relation to technological advances.

According to Dean of Academics Mr. John Griffith, “St. Pius is a school of academic excellence and like all schools of excellence, it needs to sustain that excellence and stay affront of the academic transformations that our educational system is undergoing with technology.”

The administration has considered adding online classes for a while, but they did not have this option until Business and Computer Science teacher Mrs. Ashley Wright gained certification for online teaching, which she did last school year.

“With technology advances,” said Mrs. Wright, “St. Pius is looking to stay up-to-date on new and innovative teaching strategies. After receiving my degree I was excited for this new strategy and approach to the classroom.”

St. Pius currently offers two online classes, Mrs. Wright’s Computer Applications course and math teacher Mrs. Katie Stilson’s AP Statistics. Wright piloted her computer course last year as part of her online certification, but this year it has been tweaked and fine-tuned.

The idea for online AP Statistics came from students who suggested that a new math class be added. “I agreed that it would be a good class to have available online because of the subject material – it’s vocabulary and written-word heavy, meaning not as much input from a teacher is necessary as with other AP math classes,” said Mrs. Stilson.

The new online courses differ from regular classes because the students and teacher do not see each other during a set class period every day. Instead, each week the students are given modules or tasks, such as simulations, articles, videos and even games that they are required to complete in order to gain an understanding of a concept. Students are allowed to complete these tasks on their own time and at their own pace as long they meet required due dates, according to Mrs. Wright.

Students agree that time management is important when taking an online class.

“I think the Online Computer Applications is great, but I think it’s a little hard keeping track of everything we have to do,” said freshman Camille Wright. “It’s a little harder than I thought it was going to be but I’m trying my best to stay on top of all the different projects we have to do. You just have to manage your time really well.”

In AP Statistics students follow a course schedule similar to the regular course, but the main difference is they take tests. According to Mrs. Stilson, online students are given a test that is 50 percent multiple choice and 50 percent free response. The multiple choice section consists of 15 questions online that must be finished in 45 minutes. The free response section is downloaded and written then scanned and emailed back to Mrs. Stilson. Online students also have an on-campus test every two chapters that they have to take during their lunch, free period or before or after school.

Learning without the daily interaction with a teacher may sound intimidating to some, but many students are finding a lot of success with their online courses.

“AP Statistics online is not that difficult,” said senior Andrew Jacon. “I do not mean that it is not a hard class, but so far I haven’t had much trouble learning the material by myself.”

By supplying the necessary tools and programs online, teachers have made online classes as easy to understand as a traditional class.

If students do encounter difficulty, they may have an unassigned period at the same time as the regular class, allowing them to go see the teacher and learn the material in a classroom environment. Mrs. Wright and Mrs. Stilson have also made themselves available before, during and after school to provide help to anyone who is struggling with the material.

“Teaching an online class is much more difficult than teaching a regular course because communication is much more difficult when I do not get the chance to see my students every day,” said Mrs. Wright. “If a student does not do their homework, I cannot chase them down and ask them about it. Rather, I have to email them and check to see that they are receiving my reminders.”

Additionally, teachers are unable to actually contact their students face-to-face unless the student asks for a meeting or if the teacher sends a note for the student to come meet with her.

While there are certainly pros and cons to taking an online course, it is an option that many students would like to see expanded to even more courses in the future.

When asked if St. Pius plans to add more online classes Mr. Griffith said, “I would have to say ‘yes’ very much so, but with reserved caution. Adding courses to a school curriculum entails a lot of research, collaboration and attention to the existing curriculum and course offerings and how they may be affected.”

Online courses may not be the best option for everyone’s personal learning style, but so far they have been implemented at St. Pius with much success.

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