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Monday, March 16, 2015

An experiment in distance learning

"'Blended' course has Roy-Hart, Barker seniors receiving instruction from Niagara University."  reports Michael Canfield.

Roy-Hart seniors participate in an Introduction to Sociology course with their peers at Barker High School, who are seen on the laptop screens. The course is taught by Adjunct Professor Dina Martin at Niagara University. Photo: Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

On a recent Wednesday morning at Royalton-Hartland High School, eight seniors sat scattered around a classroom usually used for teaching social studies, each with their own school-issued laptop.

Within several minutes of the class beginning, the students started to connect with a class at Barker High School over a program on their computers that allows them to see and speak to each other.

Seconds later, the room was buzzing as the students discussed an upcoming project that was due.

It’s not a traditional high school class, and that’s by design. The students, along with their peers in Barker, are taking Introduction to Sociology through Niagara University, a course with which they will earn three college credits when it ends in June. It’s a blended class, which means it involves internet work, virtual face time and physical face time with their professor at Niagara University.


The idea, Superintendent Roger J. Klatt said, is to prepare the students for the type of class they’ll likely see in college.

“They’ll learn how to manage time and focus,” he said. “It’s very different than what they’ve experienced before.”

Despite some technological bugs to work out, the students seem to have embraced the class, which began in early February.

“It’s definitely an adventure,” said Madison Dent, 17. “I like the class.”

While the students are learning how to manage a blended course, the subject matter is also at a college level. Topics range from media literacy to racial issues to gender issues.

Source: Lockport Union-Sun & Journal