Students enjoy freedom of online and blended classes

The+new+LISDblendED+program+provides+an+alternative+to+the+traditional+classroom+setting.+Several+students+who+have+taken+online+classes+discussed+their+experiences.

Diego Monreal

The new LISDblendED program provides an alternative to the traditional classroom setting. Several students who have taken online classes discussed their experiences.

By Fernanda Galera, Lewisville HS, Lewisville, Texas

Cindy Nguyen liked the freedom; she didn’t need to show up to class every day.

Marilyn Castro could enjoy the comfort of her home while completing assignments at her own pace.

Josue Varela was able to catch up on his sleep.

Jimmy Nguyen had the chance to manage his time and schedule.

All these seniors had one thing in common; they signed up for an online class.

With the new “LISDblendED” program kicking in next school year, in which online courses will be offered to students as part of their regular school day schedule, students who have previously taken a virtual class described what it was like to learn outside a traditional classroom atmosphere.

Cindy Nguyen took blended AP English IV. She physically met with her teacher and classmates twice a week, and the rest of the learning was done outside the classroom independently.

“I decided to take it because it was different from my other classes and I thought before [going] to college it’d be nice to have a little change,” Nguyen said. “We did most of our assignments out[side] of class and then we came together to discuss them. I liked the freedom they gave us, how I didn’t have to come to school everyday for that class. I also liked the reading. At first it was kind of hard because the teacher [was] not always there.”

Nguyen said she would take another online course if she had the chance and would recommend the experience to others as it helped her become “more independent.”

Castro said she appreciated the one-on-one time she had with her teacher through her office hours which gave her the opportunity to ask questions.

“It was a new experience because I got to be at home [yet] still in school,” Castro said. “[I liked] having my own individual time with the teacher; I wouldn’t feel dumb around all the students. It wasn’t easy, but if you put [in] the time and effort it’s better, because it prepares you for college. It was a great experience and something new.”

Jimmy Nguyen said the course improved his study habits and time management skills.

“There are a lot of deadlines, so at times it was hard to keep up with those, but after a while it proved helpful because now I’m better at managing my time,” Nguyen said. “I thought it was more convenient to have an off day and have everything done at home. I barely got to know the teacher but it was still good. She knew my name, I knew her name.”

Josue Varela signed up for an online class as he considers himself “good with technology,” and so it “sounded right” for him.

“Sometimes the site would go down and there were some technical difficulties, but other than that I loved everything else,” Varela said. “It was beneficial because I got to learn on my own and whatever I already knew I could just skip, and go to the next level. I also got the chance to choose my readings.”

Melissa McClure, who is now a full-time Virtual Learning Academy teacher, taught the blended AP English IV class last fall and said the course was “definitely all about self-direction.”

“When I asked for feedback from my blended class, the response to the question of what they learned the most was ‘self discipline,’” McClure said. “That is a big lesson, and I am glad that they walked away with more self-awareness, and more literature in their brains.”

De-Neisa Siler, Jehu Arzate and Asia Collier contributed to this story.

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