Math course to add online component

By Anabel Pasarow

Starting next year, one Trigonometry and Functions class will have part of the classwork online as part of a pilot program.

There will be daily online lectures and students can then ask questions via email, the five most popular of which will be discussed online the following day.

Once a week students will meet in class to take a quiz or test and to have their portfolios checked. Each student will have 15 minutes per week to meet with his or her teacher to keep students up-to-date. Students can request to be in this section and will decide with their dean, teacher and parents if this option makes sense for them, said Math Department Head Paula Evans.

“Many schools offer this option to students,” Evans said. “The school has discussed the possibility for years. It was really a situation where we wanted to see if this could be helpful for certain students.”

This section of Trignometry and Functions will include the same material as the other sections of the course.

“There will be around 15 students in the online section,” said math teacher Michael Mori. “It is a pilot program, so we want to give it the best chance for success and not overburden it.”

The math department has chosen to do this to accommodate students who have busy schedules and need more flexibility, those who are better able to focus in the late afternoon or evening and those who learn concepts quickly without a classroom environment, Evans said.

“Our school wants to be a leader, so when we heard of online learning we did not think keeping our heads in the sand was a good approach,” Mori said. “We came up with a way to use technology and the internet to conduct a class. We shared it with [Head of School Jeanne] Huybrechts and the deans and they thought it would be worth a try.”

In April 2011, the math department began thinking about the concept and came up with a sketch of a course, but the idea became more concrete at the beginning of this school year, Mori said.

“Personally, I do not want to do this because I like the classroom interaction,” said Mori. “But as time goes on, I do not want to be left behind. My hope is that I will have one live classroom section and the online section. That way I can record the online lectures in my live class so that students’ reactions to the material will be recorded too.”