Even before COVID made e-learning a common practice in schools across the state and nation, the practice of offering classes online was rapidly gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional classrooms.
Understanding this growing trend, while trying to keep area children enrolled in the school district in one form or another (as state funding is directly tied to enrollment numbers), Cambridge Schools -Isanti were in the process of implementing their own online program. , which lasted about two years.
This program won approval from the Minnesota Department of Education at the start of the 2020-2021 school year – right in the middle of a period of almost constant transition to and from in-person and “online” learning. for all students. This mix certainly caused some initial confusion for students and parents, but it also had the side effect of helping to more fully formulate the program format into one that allows for flexibility for all students.
According to program coordinator Michelle Glasgow, the K-8 program implements a combination of online videos, physical exercise books, as well as Google Meets for one-on-one interaction between students and a teacher, as well as relationship building. between a group of students.
“Our K-8 uses the Edgenuity program,” Glasgow explained. “But what makes our programs special compared to other districts is that we have teachers who actually work with students every day.”
Beyond these face-to-face meetings, however, online classes offer the flexibility to learn in a less structured form, with students and parents being able to choose when they take classes.
“What students and parents really love about this program is that they have the flexibility to make their schedule whatever they want to do throughout the day,” Glasgow said. “If they are early risers, they can do it earlier in the day. If they like to sleep, they can do so later in the day. They can work on Saturday and Sunday to make up for the work they haven’t done for the week. And parents like it too because they can help them at different times.
High school program
For students in grades 9-12, flexibility lies in the ability to switch back and forth between online and in-person learning.
“We know enrollment is smooth,” said Dean of Students Jeremy Miller. “Children come and go depending on the circumstances of life. And us kids taking biology online if they have to come back in person, we can slip them into an in-person biology class, and they can jump right in.
To do this, Miller said teachers in the district were asked to create the curriculum for the 37 classes currently offered.
“We didn’t buy any courses, our teachers built them based on the courses they would teach in person, and of course they had to make changes to make it apply online. And 100% of our courses are taught by our teachers. So if the students go back and forth, they see the same people.
Miller said it’s also important to stay consistent across courses, so each course’s homepage looks the same.
“If you had five different classes that look different, kids might get confused,” Miller said.
great participation/overcoming obstacles
According to Director of Teaching and Learning Brenda Damiani, there are currently about 200 students enrolled in online classes, split almost evenly between K-8 and 9-12. She said anyone can register for online classes, whether they are inside or outside the district’s borders.
She said the majority of students have adequate internet access to attend classes. If someone is suffering from slow internet speeds, they can simply turn off their camera, which usually consumes bandwidth. For families who may not be able to afford high-speed Internet, the district will work with them to find grants to help pay.
Anyone with additional questions about online courses can go to www.c-ischools.org/online or email [email protected]