Some Menlo students are beginning to use the host site Global Online Academy to explore different perspectives. Screen grab from Global Online Academy official website.
By Ty Corley
Online classes are continuing to grow in popularity in the United States. According to EdTech Magazine, about 28 percent of higher education students are enrolled in at least one online course, a number that has been steadily rising for the last decade and half.
The Global Online Academy (GOA) is a host for numerous online classes that are available to member schools such as Menlo. According to the GOA website, the goal centers around to replicating the intellectually rigorous programs and excellent teaching that are hallmarks of its member schools in an online format.
Currently there are about thirty different semester-long courses that range from Digital Journalism to Game Design as well as a number of summer courses that are available for students to choose from. When placed in a class you will communicate with your teacher and classmates from all over the world via Skype or internet chats.
Some of the reasons that students may want to consider taking one of these classes are the wide-ranging, interesting topics that they involve. Also taking one of these online classes opens up your schedule in the form of a free period. “I liked the idea that I could have a period to get work done and also to create a rigorous schedule for myself,” said senior Hayden Pegley, who took three semesters of GOA courses (Digital Photography, 9/11 in Global Context, Abnormal Psychology).
According to Pegley, the classroom environment is also unique. “All the people in each class chose to take that class and therefore are much more interested,” Pegley said, “When everyone is interested in the class they are taking, the classroom environment is much different.
Another difference, of course, is that you aren’t physically in the classroom, which can be hard for some people. “Online classes are definitely very fun and interesting but they aren't for everyone. Some people do better in the traditional classroom environment,” Pegley said.
David Spence, a Menlo science teacher, has been teaching a semester-long class on architecture at the Global Online Academy for the past two years. He has taught the course with teachers from the Dalton School in New York and from Japan.
Spence stated his inspiration for teaching the class was that he got to teach something he was passionate about that he couldn’t teach at Menlo as well as the fact that he could gain valuable teaching skills in this online platform. “Teaching a class at the [Global Online Academy] has made my classes at Menlo better,” Spence said. “I am learning a lot about creating and managing a course curriculum. Also, when you don’t see your students everyday in person, you tend to think more about the student experience which allows you to be a better teacher.”
Both Mr. Spence and Upper School Director John Schafer feel that it is a good idea for students to experience online classes. “It’s probable that in the future you will have at least a few online classes and it is nice to dip your toes in it now in high school,” Schafer said.
Spence feels that exposure to the many different perspectives in a class setting is extremely valuable. “In your class you can have kids from Jordan, South Africa, Germany and New York,” Spence said. “In architecture you can have each student take a photo of architecture around them and they will all come back with vastly different things.”
Spence, who will be embarking on a year long journey around the world in less than a month, is the ultimate promoter of experiencing the world in its entirety. “The GOA will open you up to a new host of perspectives that are valuable in cultivating a greater sense of global awareness.”