Online schools like Excel High School offer students a unique opportunity to learn from anywhere and at their own pace. This unique chance for students to learn in a personalized environment that supports their learning style removes the constraints of a physical classroom.
While there are many exciting aspects and benefits to online learning, there are also many challenges that students and parents face. Here are some of the most daunting challenges along with important troubleshooting for families.
Lack of Structure and Schedules
One of the biggest challenges that students face when switching over to an online school is setting and sticking to a schedule. In a physical school, students are put in a structured environment controlled by the school staff.
When studying online and at home, students don’t have the same structure. They are working from the comfort of home – or wherever they may be. The environment is more relaxed, so distractions can make it difficult to stay on track.
What to Do
Parents and students can work together to create a daily schedule and structured environment for learning online.
If possible, create a designated space for learning. This could be a home office, a space in the kitchen or somewhere away from the child’s bedroom or living area. A space with minimal distractions is best. If one parent is home during the day, the learning space could be somewhere the parent is able to oversee with ease.
Although this can be seen as a challenge, online learning gives parents and students the opportunity to create their own learning environments. Personalized structure tailored to your student’s motivation and ability to concentrate will be the key to keeping students focused and on track with their studies. To avoid this possible barrier to your student’s success, do your best to recreate a physical school schedule in your own home.
Lack of Socialization
Online learning provides flexibility, but it also eliminates one important thing: socialization. Video learning allows students to interact on a virtual level, but in-person socialization is essential to a young person’s emotional and social development.
Students may also be missing out on after-school activities and lunch periods that allow them to interact with friends. Learning how to interact with others, deal with conflict, and develop healthy, long-lasting friendships can be as important to a student’s development as their education.
What to Do
Losing that in-person socialization aspect of the physical classroom is concerning, but it’s a problem that can easily be overcome.
Although after-school activities may be limited, students can take part in community activities and programs, including sports. These activities and programs can help students maintain relationships with friends and neighbors. The local parks department or community engagement centers can help you find ways to engage your student socially.
Depending on your state and local school district’s policies, your online or home school student might also be allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities offered through your local public school district. Contacting the administration offices of your local school district is a good start to finding out if your student is eligible to participate and what types of activities the district offers.
Even if these options aren’t available, your local community is a great source of opportunities for students to socialize and build friendships with others. Asking other families and community leaders about opportunities for your student will open doors that you might not have considered otherwise.
No In-Person Interaction with Instructors
Another aspect of physical classrooms that is lost with online learning is in-person interaction with instructors. Having the ability to meet after class, form a study group to share notes and study tools, or talk to a teacher about problems they may be having with certain subjects can be helpful.
Interacting in person and being able to have a face-to-face conversation can make it easier to ask questions and better understand concepts.
What to Do
Online learning platforms like Excel High School give students the chance to ask their instructors questions while they learn. You can also chat with classmates and instructors to better understand the subject matter.
Online instructors are also happy to help their students through email. Sending a quick message can be a great way to open the door to a positive relationship with an online instructor. In addition to reaching out to instructors through email, there are other ways to request help as well; phone calls, support tickets, or participating in a chat with support staff. If your online school offers tutoring, scheduling regular times for help with the same reliable tutor can give your student some additional person-to-person interaction while learning.
Even though online schools feature virtual classrooms, support staff are still available to guide students along the way. Students still have the same access to their instructors that they would have in a physical school; it just looks a little different in an online world.
One advantage of in-person classrooms is that there’s no need to worry about technical issues interrupting a lesson. Even if students are using tablets or netbooks during class, the teacher can still carry on with a lesson, and students can resort to notebooks and pencils to take notes if technology for some reason decides not to cooperate.
With online learning, technical problems can cut a class short or leave a few students out of the loop because they’re having connection issues.
Loss of battery life or mechanical failure can also cause issues that make it more difficult for students to stay on track.
What to Do
Technical issues, at times, can’t be avoided. They happen. Technology can sometimes be unpredictable, especially if you’re relying on mobile hotspots or have a spotty Wi-Fi connection.
The great thing about online learning is that the course material is often available anytime – 24/7. If a connection isn’t great right now, students can log in later when the connection improves or find a place that offers a better connection, such as a family member’s home or local library.
Being familiar with your online school’s troubleshooting guides and how to contact customer support is important for both students and other family members. Technical difficulties are frustrating, so knowing what to do and who to contact when these inevitable glitches arise will help both you and your student better face these issues when they arise.
In the end, online learning offers many advantages, including the ability to learn anytime, anywhere. But virtual classrooms also present their own set of challenges. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome many of these challenges and allow students to learn just as effectively as they would in a physical classroom.
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