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Twin Lakes offers "lovely balance" between online and classroom learning

Andrew Philips

By Andrew Philips, Special to Postmedia Network

ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES
Grade 10 civics and careers students Jordan McCallum, left, and Tim Koskinen check out part of their online course program with teacher Robyn LaChapelle Friday afternoon at Twin Lakes Secondary School.

ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES Grade 10 civics and careers students Jordan McCallum, left, and Tim Koskinen check out part of their online course program with teacher Robyn LaChapelle Friday afternoon at Twin Lakes Secondary School.

An Orillia high school is offering twin styles of learning.

The innovative blended learning course at Twin Lakes Secondary School is a unique entry, featuring both online curriculum and face-to-face learning with a teacher in a computer lab.

“This is a regular class that we have in a computer room,” explained Robyn LaChapelle, who teaches the Grade 10 civics and careers class.

And while many teachers are already using various forms of online learning in their classes, this marks the first formal e-learning course offered at Twin Lakes.

“We thought. 'Why not have a trial run in Grade 10?'” LaChapelle said. “This provides more availability since every student learns differently.”

Grade 10 student Taylor Kitchen likes the program and the flexibility it affords.

“It's good because if you're sick, you don't fall behind and can catch up,” she said. “It's also good for working independently.”

Fellow student Lauren Prosser also appreciates the freedom the course allows.

“It’s a fantastic warm-up for online college courses in the future because there’s a teacher in the room to help, but the work is mainly up to you,” she said. “It’s a lovely balance between being in the classroom and online.”

Nowadays, e-learning normally happens in the senior grades as students might have to take a certain course for post-secondary education that either isn't available at their school or conflicts with another required course. The difference is they're often on their own as they work through a course curriculum and submit assignments online.

“Some students might have online courses later, so this is a good intro to that,” LaChapelle said. “I think it is a great way to prepare students for future online courses in a safe forum where they are engaged and have lots of support.”

LaChapelle said blended learning allows students to do more inquiry-based learning that can enhance their creativity, critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities.

The course uses various online portfolios, discussion board posts, submission tools and templates while allowing students to engage in deeper learning while also becoming good digital citizens.

“The hope is that they feel more confident taking an e-learning course on their own in their senior high-school years or after high school, which is a likely reality,” LaChapelle added.

Student Jordan McCallum enjoys the “surprising amount of variety available thanks to the computers,” while fellow student Julia Felgner said she initially felt nervous taking the course because she didn't consider herself a technology expert, but now feels more confident in her technological abilities.

“These skills have definitely helped me in other classes,” she said. “I found the course material very diverse and thought-provoking.”

andrewphilips@live.ca



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