By Cynthia Wang
As online education becomes increasingly popular, it is worthwhile to address the offered online programs in Shanghai American School: VHS, Pamoja, and Global Online Academy. Currently, in grades 11 and 12, there are 16 students taking VHS, 13 in Pamoja Education, and 12 in Global Online Academy. This makes for a grand total of around 16.67% of SAS juniors and seniors enrolled in online courses. Such courses just kicked in at the beginning of September and online students were greeting their global classmates for the first time. And in the midst of preparation for these courses, some students say their expectations are far from reality.
Starting her second year in an IB Pamoja course, senior Midi Jin said she expected that the lessons would be “similar to our normal classes in SAS,” except with “a lot of videos with teachers talking." However, she said the courses only provide students “with materials and videos from YouTube," essentially creating a "self-study" course. However, junior Brandy Wen says that there are "more group work and discussion" tasks than she expected. Online courses vary in their platforms, but most emphasize self-management while incorporating group tasks throughout the curriculum.
Midi highlights the group projects on Pamoja, saying they "get to know people from all over the world." She puts forth an example of when she "got to know a SAS Puxi student from Pamoja," once again demonstrating the extensive reach of online classrooms and the bonding of students that might not have ever met each other otherwise. Yet, Brandy says that one must "communicate with students from all over the world” where time zones might make group project plans difficult. She suggests that students must "notify each other before in order to be successful in group projects," another key aspect of the challenging time management that online courses propose.
In dealing with time management, Midi says that if students do not "choose online courses that [they] are interested in” the course “can be tedious and it is easy to be left behind." Brandy agrees, advising students to check their online course at least "four to five times a week" and to pay attention to the teacher's general update messages "about the upcoming week" in order to "plan ahead for the hours [one] must spend and the due dates [one] must be aware of."