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online classical education

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  • cherylswope
    started a topic online classical education

    online classical education

    This week I had the opportunity to "guest attend" two online high school classical courses. As I watched the capable instructors over my own computer, I wondered about our special-needs students....

    Some students appear well suited for this option. Children with Asperger's and high-functioning autism could benefit from online classes without the daily social pressures of attending full-time high school. Intelligent children with medical conditions -- stronger academically, but weaker physically -- would also seem to be ideal candidates for online courses.

    Could other special-needs students benefit?

    Are there some students for whom this option should not be attempted?

    What about those with difficulties concentrating? What modifications must be made to assist concentration in this potentially distracting venue?

    How can online instructors accommodate children who need academic modifications?

    Generally, how can we maximize this increasingly available opportunity for our special-needs or struggling students? What are the specific advantages/disadvantages we need to consider?

    Any insights here would be appreciated.


  • dsmith
    I know that ds would have quite a bit of trouble with live online class environment for the same reasons he had trouble with actual live classes. An asynchronous environment may work well for him as long as it was a highly visual presentation. As far as interacting with other classmates, my son is quite comfortable in a message board environment, but live discussions online he finds difficult to follow. The few we have tried were with younger kids, but there was a lack of discipline, and many students shouting out answers at once, talking over each other, etc. This made it very stressful for ds. I would love to find online classes that catered to special needs kids! They would be mostly asynchronous, with multiple options for material delivery (audio/highly visual along with written options for those who are easily distracted, along with study helps, etc.) with once weekly live sessions in a relaxed yet disciplined format, etc. It's a tall order.

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  • Enigma
    Hi, Cheryl.

    I've been on vacation and redefining schooling for my crew so I just saw this post.

    I actually removed my oldest out of the course he was in. It was a read, mail in the tests sort of program. I was NOT happy with it for so many reasons that I will spare you from reading. So now I am back to figuring out what to do. Ideas?

    For him, live online classes would not be a good fit. He would have a hard time following along and not interupting. The Asynchronous system would be better for him as he could go back and listen to parts he didn't quite understand the first time round or review information/diagrams, etc.. He then could email the instructor if he had questions.

    I am not sure having outside student interaction would work for him as he has a hard time with others outside of our small world in reality UNLESS the class was structured specially for special needs learners. It would also need to be taught by someone who has training or experience working with these kinds of kids. All assignments, etc. would have to be modified for these kids. Shorter and fewer papers, for example.

    I do see how this model would not fit a classical education well because it would limit the sharing of ideas from others.

    I hope my thoughts are somewhat clear. I really should not post so late.
    Last edited by Enigma; 10-15-2012, 09:48 PM.

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  • cherylswope

    A preliminary analysis -- feel free to add your thoughts:

    Live, online classes offer the personal, relational, real-time Socratic questioning inherent in classical education. The Teacher remains central, as the students are guided in discussion. When our struggling students attend such classes, they can participate actively.

    Care must be taken before enrolling. Our students may find the audio/visual/technical aspects distracting. For this reason, they will need coaching and practice prior to attending. They will also need careful pairing with classes at their instructional level.

    Especially well-suited for our struggling students with social or medical difficulties, online classes can provide engaging, healthy interactions in classical education with good opportunities for dialectic and rhetoric. In many ways, these can supplement and enrich homeschooling in high school.

    Perhaps less well suited to the child who struggles academically, even this can be accommodated by enrolling him with somewhat younger students. Additional helps can be provided, such as recording the lectures. He can then replay for note-taking purposes or simply listen to them again in the evenings.

    Asynchronous venues seem useful for posting and accessing information; however, this seems less well-suited for classical education. If the course is wholly asynchronous, multiple posts fly into one's Inbox with a round-the-clock randomness most of our children would find difficult to organize. Further, students' posts can vary greatly in grammar, sentence structure, insight, and accuracy. Our students may have difficulty discerning which are true and which are not. They may also find it challenging to rise above lower levels of written expression present with students' "texting"-type abbreviations and absence of punctuation.

    In contrast, the live, online instructor can immediately correct error and guide students to truth. Writing assignments will be more formal, and real-time discussions offer good practice in oral expression. Live, online classes appear to offer more for our struggling students.

    Memoria Press offers many audio and visual classes with real-time-instruction and excellent instructors. Schedules appear to accommodate a range of students. Those seeking daily instruction can obtain it, and students who would benefit from a once-a-week class can find this too.

    A good friend of mine has homeschooled all of her three children from the beginning. Her first two, highly auto-didactic girls, completed English, upper-level mathematics, AP Chemistry, and AP Biology almost independently in high school. Now in college, they both excel. Her third, a distractible and much less motivated boy, will require greater accountability, structure, and interaction from more actively tutorial homeschooling ... or perhaps online classes!

    Great potential here for a variety of students.


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  • cherylswope
    After attending live, online classes at a classical high school, I enrolled as a guest in asynchronous online classes.

    Definitions from
    Synchronous online classes are those that require students and instructors to be online at the same time. Lectures, discussions, and presentations occur at a specific hour. All students must be online at that specific hour in order to participate.

    Asynchronous classes are just the opposite. Instructors provide materials, lectures, tests, and assignments that can be accessed at any time. Students may be given a time frame – usually a one week window – during which they need to connect at least once or twice. But overall, students are free to contribute whenever they choose.

    Some of you already have experience with one or both of these forms. Enigma, which does your son take? How are these classes working for him?

    Does anyone else have a special-needs or struggling student enrolled in online classes? Anyone on our forum who has attempted an online class with Memoria Press? Anyone planning to utilize such classes for their student(s) in the future?

    Still puzzling out the possible benefits and pitfalls here for our students.


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