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Online Learning Pilot Program Set to Launch

1/4/2013
With innovation and the enhancement of student learning in mind, New Hampton School will pilot two online courses in the second semester. The initiative is a result of comprehensive strategic work guided by the School's vision to innovatively prepare students for the 21st century.

"It is our intention to provide the most progressive and relevant learning opportunities to our students," New Hampton Head of School Andrew Menke said.  "As with our 1:1 iPad initiative, online courses innovatively offer access to course content and unexpected connectivity to faculty and peers. In our effort to fully prepare students for post-secondary education, online courses also expose our students to a course delivery method that is becoming more ubiquitous at the college and university level. We are proud of this latest curricular example of our dynamically evolutionary culture." 

Hans Mundahl, Director of Technology Integration, will teach his second semester Media Productions online. The other online pilot will be Justin Joslin's PreCalculus Honors class. While Mr. Mundah's class will not meet at normal class hours, Mr. Joslin's class essentially will run the same way it did during the first semester. It will meet in classroom spaces for three 70-minute blocks. Joslin will continue to employ a blended learning model (flip teaching) in which students watch lessons on their iPads and laptops that are created by the teacher with cutting-edge software in video form. Then, during class, students are able to spend more time collaborating with classmates on problems with teacher as a roving coach and helper. With the pilot in place, the School will track the progress of the initiative and use data from surveys to inform exploration of online opportunities in the future.

"We’re going to critically measure the impact of this type of educational experience," Mundahl said.  "We’re responding to broader trends in education. It’s a hot topic in education and it is in line with our mission and vision to deliver an innovative experience."

Mundahl says his Media Productions class going online has opened the door for more students to explore the very practical and creative craft of making videos. In the past, students who wanted to take the elective would need to have the appropriate block free. Mundahl's class will not meet during the school day, paving the way for students to carve out the time to produce the necessary work, collaborate with classmates and video subjects, absorb the teacher's lessons that will be available on the course web site, and meet with him during extended office hours because of the online nature of the class.

Joslin is optimistic about the online learning pilot, and has already seen the value in the blended learning model.

"I'm not changing anything I've been doing already for a year," Joslin said. "It's more of a hybrid course. They're still meeting in the classroom on a regular basis. They get to come in and get their questions answered and get specific help when needed, but one of the cool things I'm doing this semester is piloting an online homework application with which the students can use their iPads and laptops for, and it will allow me to collect homework remotely and grade it remotely. We can move to a place where everything is online and we can take this class to place where we don’t meet.”

The possibilities for online learning are endless, but New Hampton School is dedicated to creating the best process for exploration. Numerous faculty members have attended workshops on online teaching and other faculty members have taken graduate level classes online, providing better understanding of the student experience. This past summer the New Hampton School administrative team spent time during a summer retreat with Brad Rathgeber of the Online School for Girls. Rathgaber guided the group through a thorough assessment of the School's readiness for this type of endeavor and concluded that New Hampton School was ready to explore a pilot program in the near future.

“The value of an independent school education remains the student/teacher relationship and we do that as well or better than any school,” said Mundahl. “This is the beginning of so many options. It is an opportunity to explore a chance to offer courses we might not normally offer. If we only have two kids who want to take a class, we might be able to give those students that class.”


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