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eLo gives students useful and unique online learning experience

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[quote]By Drew Danko
Online Editor
Graphic by Drew Danko[/quote]

In my four years at Metea, I have taken many engaging, helpful courses that have prepared me for my postsecondary education and equipped me with the knowledge to be successful in the future. I’ll be waiting on college acceptance letters, but for the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, the beginning of second semester means logging into HomeAccess to make course requests for the next school year.

Expanding Learning Opportunities Consortium, or eLo, for short, is a program that Indian Prairie District 204, Naperville District 203, and Wheaton District 200 students can participate in to take classes online during the summer or school year. Monday, registration opened for students to enroll in five course offerings for summer 2016: American government, consumer economics, geometry, health, and music theory.

In District 204, American government, consumer economics, and health are all required for graduation. During June 2015, I took American government online through eLo. For anyone interested in the program, I would recommend considering taking an online course this summer.

However, online courses are not a blow-off alternative to taking a course in the physical classroom. Many expect to breeze through, or wait until the last minute, and receive an ‘A’ without work. The class is self-paced, but there are strict deadlines throughout that you must meet in order to get credit. Additionally, it is not a “breeze.” Remember, this is an entire semester of coursework compacted into only about three weeks. Students should expect more than an hour of work per day in order to stay on track with deadlines.

Despite that it is a work load, taking an online course in the summer is helpful to students with a busy schedule during the school year. With AP courses and numerous extracurriculars I am currently involved in, taking government during the summer has allowed me to take more courses in school, and avoid the more time consuming in-school government course. Online government does not require the civic engagement project, which would have taken up a lot of my time outside of school.

Popularity of online college courses has increased, as the American Society of Association Executives reports that 96 percent of the largest college institutions in America provide online course offerings. Taking an online course in high school can prepare you for this unique experience, as it is different than the traditional in-class learning.

Obviously, using technology is the basis of this course. Students use resources like Google Drive or Canvas to complete projects and tasks. Rather than an in-class discussion, students communicate through a discussion board and comment on each other’s posts, or submit a video describing their opinion on a topic.

Since they are virtual, some people are hesitant to take online courses due to the fact that there is a lack of face-to-face interaction and learning. Students are encouraged to personalize their profiles as much as they feel comfortable, to provide the most personal experience possible. Additionally, teachers are readily available to answer questions via email quickly.

Despite not being in a physical classroom, 60 percent of students taking online courses during summer 2015 received an ‘A’ in their class, according to eLo. I was a bit surprised at the rigor of the course, but following the module deadlines allowed me to be successful in the class. With initiative from students to use the resources provided through eLo modules, students can succeed in these courses. 

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