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Students may ditch class for online learning (01/16/2013)
By Emily Buss

A proposed change in several family and consumer science (FACS), healthcare, and science electives at Winona Senior High School (WSHS) could allow more students to leave campus during the school day. 

WSHS principal Kelly Halvorson presented the Winona Area School Board (WAPS) with several more hybrid class opportunities that blend face-to-face classroom learning with a variety of web-based educational tools and assignments.

“[Students] are able to create their own unique learning experience,” Halvorson said. “However, it’s not a ‘here is your syllabus, here is your homework, now go do it’ kind of thing.”

Hybrid courses are expanding online learning opportunities for millions of students across the country, implemented by several high schools in Minnesota, including WSHS. 

Four FACS classes proposed to becoming hybrid electives are Aging, Independent Living, Interpersonal Relationships, and Child Development: Preschool to Elementary. Two of the courses are proposed to be offered 40 percent online and 60 percent in the classroom, while one course is proposed to be 20 percent in class, with the other 80 percent either online or in a service learning opportunity.

“The service learning opportunity will be for two hours, three times a week,” Halvorson said. “Then their hybrid will be online through their [online class hosting site].”

An anatomy and physiology course is also proposed to become a hybrid elective, 40 percent online and 60 percent in class. The course is taken at Southeast Technical College.

Halvorson said each student will be assigned a teacher or advisor for the hybrid course, and must report to them during scheduled meeting times.

“If they don’t want to use the off-campus time to work on their online material, they can work on it here,” Halvorson said. “They aren’t forced to leave campus. They can choose to do their online work in the classroom. It’s allowing some freedom for the kids.”

Seniors will also be allowed special off-campus privileges if they are enrolled in a senior capstone project. The idea of the capstone project is a transition from subject-centric learning to a real-life experience that the students feel may be relevant to their next stage in life.

Students participating in the capstone project work with a local business in such fields as computer science, performing arts, and agriculture, among others. They are required to have a minimum of 40 hours of direct contact in their area of interest. Students must maintain a log of the experience and present a 10-minute presentation to the capstone advisor at the end of the trimester.

“I am impressed with these classes,” new WAPS member Jeanne Nelson said. “They enable our students to be enterprising once they graduate high school. I’d very much like to see classes like this that are tailored to that independent nature.”

Halvorson said she anticipates a final vote on the proposal at the next school board meeting.

Superintendent Scott Hannon also told board members that he has met with students who presented an argument in support of leaving during lunch time, a case Halvorson said was "valid." This proposal will also be addressed by the board.

 

 

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