Some type of online education will exist next year


Since the beginning of the year, GlenOak High School has been adapting to many changes because of COVID-19. However, some of these changes may not be staying put, considering the slow down of the pandemic. 

Students at the beginning of the year were given the option to stay home and do Eagle Online or attend in-person school, where their usual teachers would either use a platform to video call them, or another assigned online teacher would. The safety of each student was expanded to staying at home instead of starting the year with a hybrid schedule.

This program has always been alive and well in the district, but the question is how long it will stay and prosper.

Assistant Superintendent Brian Matthews explains how the students in the district who had the option of Eagle Online have benefitted in different ways, from each person’s health to unique emotional issues. 

“The positives to online schooling this year is the fact that we are giving people a choice during the pandemic,” Matthews said. “Some long term people of the district struggle with social and emotional issues, and this choice they have now can help them.”

Matthews also explains Eagle Online will indeed exist next year, but it may not have the same look it had this year. The program is supposed to have an independent aspect to it, but many students do not treat it this way.

“Eagle Online for next year will depend on the public interest,” Matthews said. “We are asking all kids to schedule online for next year so we can see how it goes.”

As well as having an outside perspective on the Eagle Online issues and concerns, teacher Angela Spano explains the perspectives on the staff’s view of online learning.

Teaching online journalism as well as being a student of online classes, Spano explains the helpfulness of online learning in her experience. 

“I finished my Masters degree online 10 years ago,” Spano said. “I found it a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be.”

Spano finished her Masters online, after having her son, she found it both a struggle and a relief to have the opportunity to do online grad school. 

Spano also explains doing online schooling takes a large amount of self motivation to do. It is a challenge, especially if you are a social person and prefer to be with other people. 

However, she also describes how online schooling is a great opportunity to have for people who cannot leave their house because of family or personal reasons. 

“I just had my son at the time, and it enabled me to continue school while not missing a class, because I was online,” Spano said. 

Dana Hill, an Online English teacher, is one of the many other teachers who have been paired with Florida Virtual Program, an online education system, for students who wanted to do full online classes. 

Hill believes online schooling is not any more difficult than face-to-face classes. It all depends on the type of person the student is.

“If you are mature enough to attend class and complete your assignments, then online school is a fantastic opportunity,” Hill said. “I don’t see it as any more or less difficult than a face-to-face class.”

Hill explains how Florida Virtual online meetings work the same as a regular face-to-face class. It takes the same amount of attention and effort as any class.

“Anyone can raise their hand in the virtual meet, there is a chatbox to ask questions, and we have office hours for one-on-one help,” Hill said. “Of course if you choose not to attend any meetings, or do any assignments, your grade will reflect that, just like in a face-to-face class.”

Students currently enrolled in online classes at GlenOak have the opportunity to come back to school per quarter (nine weeks). Many students believe that learning face-to-face is the better option for them.

Crystal Santiago, a junior at GlenOak, is one of the Eagle Online students since the pandemic gave schools this greater opportunity. She explains how her struggles with the new learning platform have varied throughout the year.

“Online schooling has been both good and bad,” Santiago said. “It requires you to be able to manage your time very well, but it is also more work and potentially more difficult.”

Santiago has been doing Eagle Online since the beginning of the school year. But she also explains how she would rather have face-to-face learning.

“After my junior year, I will be returning to face-to-face,” Santiago said. “I believe it will be more manageable for me.”

Sophomore Brenna Dobransky is another participant of online schooling. Her experience with the program has motivated her to choose face-to-face over online.

Dobransky explains she has loved the freedom Eagle Online has given her, but it also makes her feel very lonely. 

“Eagle Online gave you a lot of mature freedom you usually wouldn’t get at school,” Dobransky said. “But I also felt very secluded while I was doing my work at home.”

As well as falling behind on the online work, Dobransky also believes her social experience, as well as anyone online, can quickly deplete. 

“Social groups are a big part of school life,” Dobransky said. “When I came back for the third nine weeks, I didn’t know anyone, and everyone else was already in their cliques and groups.”

As the end of the year comes closer, and vaccines roll out throughout the country, students are learning what type of teaching is best for them. Whether it is face-to-face or online, teachers and students are learning new ways of adaptation.