MOUNT VERNON — On Tuesday, students and staff at the Knox County Career Center launched and tested an alternative learning environment called Moodle.
It was more than just a typical “homework” session. The teachers were on site at KCCC, but the students logged onto classes from home, and it was a legitimate instructional exercise. — On Monday, the Ohio Department of Education informed Superintendent Bernie Pachmayer the waiver request to “better meet the learning needs of your students” had been approved.
KCCC was granted four full online instructional days in lieu of calamity days during the 2010-11 school year, with the proviso that it is a pilot program and that ODE receives written documentation as to its effectiveness.
Generally speaking, said Pachmayer, the school-day-on-the-computer experience on Tuesday was a positive one for all involved, although some glitches were identified. Because not all students have access to the Internet at home, which KCCC officials knew prior to the test day, participation ranged from about 33 percent in one class to 100 percent in another.
“In talking with a lot of my students before today,” said government and U.S. history instructor Ben Cook, “it seemed like a lot do not have Internet access. Some of that is the economic climate ... some of them don’t even have computers, maybe about 35 percent.”
About 70 percent of Cook’s students logged in for classes Tuesday. He said since the Moodle day was planned in advance, some students made arrangements to go to a friend’s house and log on.
Those students who were unable to Moodle will have two weeks to make up the assignments — online through the library or other computer sites.
“What we realized through this trial,” said Pachmayer, “is that we have to make sure students actually know how to log on. We assume that kids have all these technological talents, but some do not. The younger generation doesn’t necessarily have computer skills. We have to help them know how to use online resources.”
During the Moodle debriefing session at the end of the day, teachers said the trial was basically a success, although there are some glitches to work through. But those and other glitches are what the trial run was designed to discover.
One thing mentioned by several teachers was the “less formal” style of student interaction. For example, “Hey, girl,” is not the usual way for students to address a teacher.
Students will also have to be reminded to check in with all their teachers. Apparently some students did log into the Moodle program, but did not touch base with all of their instructors. A few students logged into the wrong teacher’s class. “One guy accidentally enrolled in my class,” one teacher said. “I unenrolled him and he wasn’t there anymore.”
KCCC staff will be talking with parents and students to see how the trial run went from their points of view.
The next Moodle “test” will be to ensure that the teachers’ remote sites [at home] work.