|E-School, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Hawaii State Department of Education
Can we expect E-School to be around for the foreseeable future?
We believe it is safe to say E-School or one of its future permutations will exist as a program in its supplementary form or perhaps more fully integrated into the “regular” school system. The tools of online distance learning/education are here to stay. In some form or another distance learning tools are used in almost 100% of all post-secondary education coursework. The preparation of the K-12 student for participation in educational life after their K-12 education dictates this continuation. These tools will and do have a place in the educational learning process of ALL students.
Are these credit courses? Non-credit?
At this point all courses offered to students are for ACCN credit to be applied to high school graduation.
Is there a fee/tuition?
E-School patterns its’ course offering on the regular Hawaii DOE calendar school year – essentially late August through early June. During the regular school periods (semester one, semester two) there is no charge to the student. Additionally, E-School offers one Summer School session. During this period the courses are fee-based. The fees charged are the same as all Hawaii DOE summer school classes, namely $80.00 per .5 credit in the Summer School 2003 session.
Is there a certain kind of student that is most successful in E-School?
What has been made very clear to us is that the initial success for E-School students depends on factors in three distinct areas. Digital skills, connectivity and motivation are part of the essential formula for the successful E-School student.
Let’s say you’re a High School student who has made the decision to supplement your high school education with an online class in E-School. Your thought process goes something like this: “Sure I know how to use a computer – you thought – right - I have the modem connection and doing alright in classes was kind of simple when all I really had to do was show up (most of the time) sit in the classes and let the teachers tell me what to know! Gee, this online education is tougher than I thought. I’m not doing so well. What’s wrong? It sounded so easy!” It turns out Distance Online Education is hard. Most often it is harder than going to “regular” school. Why? Here’s what a student needs to succeed in a virtual class.
A student needs the fastest connectivity possible and a good speedy computer. You are going to be online EVERYDAY (that turns out to be important – EVERYDAY – so I will capitalize it!). You really don’t have the time and probably the patience to wait…and wait for all of the web pages to load. You really need to get as quick of a connection to the Internet as is possible in your area. Many of the technologies that are used in these online courses require a modern operating system and a speedy computer to make the course satisfying or even doable.
A successful student needs a good set of digital skills, being able to cruise the Internet is not enough. At bare minimum you need to possess a word processing program and understand how to use it. How to save a file, find them after you save them, save them in different formats, use of the thesaurus, spelling checker are required skills. An understanding of the Internet technologies such as browsers, browser plug-ins (PDF, QuickTime, Real Audio), html, FTP are skills that can only help the online student.
It turns out the most important characteristic of a successful student is their motivation. In fact, it has been the case already in E-School that a student might be at a serious disadvantage in the two earlier mentioned areas of “requirements” but when they have the motivation they do just fine. It may be still a struggle, but they succeed. A student doesn’t really need that super fast connection or be a computer genius with the latest and greatest equipment if they have the drive, responsibility, motivation, and a “can do” attitude to get it done.
That’s it! You just must do the WORK. That means hitting your classes and working online EVERYDAY! You must make a schedule for yourself to spend time in your class - EVERYDAY! Does that mean weekends? Well, sometimes. In your “regular” school classes you do homework on weekends (sometimes) don’t you? The good thing is you really don’t, most of the time, have to do it between 8:00 am and 2:00pm. You can do your work at 11:00 pm if you want. You must remain in almost daily communication with your online teacher. Use the WebCT email, Threaded discussion and their scheduled chat times. Most of them do not mind having you even call them.
Get it into your head that you cannot sit in class and listen any more. In online education you must PARTICIPATE in the gathering, understanding and the communication of knowledge in your class. Is that harder? Maybe! But it can also be much more satisfying as you learn that your thoughts, ideas and personal experiences are valuable, have weight and are necessary to the success of the class. The skills you learn and employ in this online class you will use well after your high school experience. So students make sure you make a schedule to do the work and a promise to yourself to commit to the PARTICIPATION in your education.
Who may enroll?
During the regular school year ONLY registered Hawaii DOE secondary education students may register and participate.
Are classes only open to certain grade levels?
At this point the classes offered are credit ACCN high school classes, therefore they are focused towards the high school student needs. However, Intermediate School students are invited to take the classes too, with the understanding that the credits may or may not be accepted by their incoming high school and are not to be used for intermediate school credit
Are charter school, home school and/or private school students eligible? Adults?
Charter School students are allowed to register for the classes. Home school and private school students are not offered the opportunity to register during the regular school year. They are allowed to make registration during the summer school session, but are responsible for their own schools’ acceptance of the credits.
Is registering for a course as simple as just going on-line and signing up? Is there an approval process?
The registration process is more involved that just “signing up” online. There is a somewhat elaborate process involving online testing, online tutorials that test the students digital involvement with the tools of the internet and their motivation and sense of responsibility. You can see webpages detailing the registration process at the following web address: http://184.108.40.206/SF/registration.htm
Also included in becoming “ready” to be a productive member of an E-School course is required attendance at a MANDATORY face-to-face hands-on training session conducted at various sites across the state prior to the opening of the semester.
Is there a limit to the number of courses a student may take?
Currently, there is a two class limit per semester for the students. Remember, the students are full time students at their regular school.
Are courses cancelled if there are not enough participants?
This is a problem we no longer have. Just the opposite, we do not have enough student seats in most classes that we offer. The last year and a half has seen E-School forced to “close” classes before the end of the registration period. E-School classes are NOT correspondence classes online. We attempt to replicate the same relationship between student and teacher, student and curriculum, and student and student that exists in the “regular” classroom. Therefore, the same student/teacher ratio exists online as in the regular classroom – approximately 26:1. When we “fill up” the classes I, as the registrar, close the online registration. I have taken to collecting a “waiting list” for occasions when spaces open up.
How are classes typically conducted? Are there lectures or discussions on-line or just assignments? Do students need books?
Outside of the initial MANDATORY training meeting, the students almost never meet their teachers face to face. E-School uses a Distance Education delivery tool called WebCT (also used by ALL of the post secondary education institutes in Hawaii – UH, HPU, Chaminade). This tool includes webpages, email, threaded discussion, chat, streaming video and online textbooks.
Is the course recorded on the student's regular report card?
E-School offers the school the option of including the class and grades in the school’s master schedule for that current year or to treat this supplementary educational experience for their students similar to the Summer School experience. This means at the end of the semester the registrar of E-School sends evidence of the student’s grade and credit to the registrar of the student’s school. At that time the student’s registrar enters that evidence (usually in the form of a label) in the student VISI and re-calculates the grade point average. At this time 90% of the schools elect the summer school-like option.
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