The future of online schooling

Online version of AP Government course paves way for future online high school courses


An online AP Government student works on an online worksheet called “The Arcade” on his own personal time. Students are expected to keep up and complete their online course work every day.

The sounds of clicking and the soft hum of the computer engines replace those of crumpling papers and moving pencils. Students rise to communicate and share ideas with their classmates, efficiently continuing their work without bothering anyone for assistance. An adult observes, pushing the students to utilize the search engines as best they can to become as bright as they can. This is a vision of what could soon be the average modern classroom setup.

A modern innovation that makes this type of classroom setting possible is the recent advancement of devices such as smart phones, laptops, and tablets. Those who have grown up with the accessibility to these devices have had easy access to the internet, a variety of helpful apps and accommodations such as a built in GPS for a large portion of their lives. These tools have altered home lives, work environments and the way people learn.

“The question still remains whether or not this technology has been used to its full potential,” said Dan Larsen, American Studies, AP Comparative Government, AP Government teacher and co-creator of AP Government Online.

Many schooling systems still rely on outdated strategies to educate their students in a very tech-reliant world. The simple paper and pencil classroom setting is still embraced and enforced around America.

“Much of the adolescent population around the world are still trained and taught the same way that people have been for 5000 years.” Larsen said. “Students sit in one place at a certain time and hope an expert walks into the room.”

With search engines at hand, the internet can be as much of a teacher to a student as a real professor. With more progressive schools recognizing the demand to modernize education, online classes and other resources are making their way into traditional classrooms and are even replacing traditional classrooms altogether.

“I asked my daughter (who works in human resources and recruits workers) what three things she needs people to be able to do when she hires them were, and she said she looks for those who can collaborate, use tech and be creative,” Larsen said.

With the internet accessible to much of the population at almost all hours of the day, memorizing information is no longer as much of a priority as it may have been only a decade ago. Job requirements are no longer based on memorization skills than they are on an employee’s ability to work with or around technology.

As well as preparing students for the possible expectations of future employers, this online course assists in readying students for college life.

“We know that Students are taking online classes in universities; there’s a huge element of time management needed because more responsibilities are placed on students. It’s a chance to learn skills in a high school environment.” said Andrew Conneen, AP Government, AP

Comparative Government, co-creator of online AP Government and Government teacher.

AP Government Online is identical to the traditional AP Government course, except taking the online course eliminates the obligation to attend a physical class during the day. Still, students are expected to complete the necessary assignments on their own time.

“Can [students] discipline themselves to not be told what to do?” Larsen said. “As liberating as it sounds, that ideology is often scary for people. All the time I have students begging me ‘just tell me when it’s due!’”

Daily assignments require 30- 90 minutes of work per school day, sometimes in-person or with digital peer collaboration. Enrolled students receive individualized feed- back from instructors.

“Being able to work independently and then bring it back to a group setting by making appointments with my teacher and going in for help when I need it has helped my skills as a student tremendously” Emma Nudelman ’17 said.

Often times, students find that required classes for graduation take up space in their schedules, preventing students from enrolling in other classes they hope to take. Online classes like AP Government Online allow students to satisfy graduation requirements outside the classroom while having room for electives and other courses. This allows for greater flexibility and students to take advantage of the broad selection of courses Stevenson has to offer. Online courses also provide students with an idea of what their future jobs may expect of them, providing them with a portal into work life.

“We should be offering opportunities to learn in the way they’ll be learning or working for the rest of their lives” Larsen said.