When the big failing F shows up on the report card in the mail, parents get angry, teachers are disappointed, and it seems all hope is lost. Fortunately, F’s aren’t permanent thanks to Odysseyware. This year, major changes have been made to the program, including a new program to complete math and a stricter completion window.
Students can take credits online at NS through a course called Odysseyware. Odysseyware provides students with a quick and easy way to complete credits and credit recovery. There’s a variety of reasons a student can be taking the online classes. They may have failed a class and have to retake it, need to make up credits they’ve missed, are to graduating early or have been previously homeschooled and need to take a class or two. Some students are retaking classes to get a better grade to improve their GPA.
A big change has been made to the completion date requirements this year. Students are now required to complete the work assigned to them within the quarter. If they are unable to finish it, they lose all of their work and have to start over, along with paying for the course again. In the past students were given an indefinite amount of time to finish the work which lead to a lot of procrastination. Students would get in the mindset of thinking they had a long time to complete the course, so by the end they were down to a days to complete the entire course.
“I would have students that would be assigned classes as sophomores and they wouldn’t touch them for two years and then two weeks before graduation they were suddenly going crazy trying to complete the work,” said NS counselor Ben Cox.
Drastic changes to the online math coursework were also put into effect this year. Instead of using Odysseyware, students take math classes on Aleks to recover credit. Aleks is a math program that’s implemented in all math classes that helps students to learn more. If a student fails math or takes it as an extra credit, they are given additional Aleks work on a separate account. The math department switched over after deciding that the work on Odysseyware didn’t match the curriculum well enough, so they created their own on Aleks.
“Now the curriculum matches a lot better and it’s not multiple choice so the students actually have to learn the material, so now it’s not a matter of get on there and guess, they actually have to learn,” Cox said.
Out of about 75 students taking online courses this semester, a majority of them are taking extra classes to graduate early. This makes a much larger workload for the students, but many have found it to be manageable.
“They can go through it much quicker so they can get out of here sooner, but I still think that you only get to be a senior once and what’s the big rush?” said Jane Tucker, the overseer of the Odysseyware program. “If you hurry up and push your way through, you don’t get to experience all of the fun things as a senior.”
This year is Tucker’s first year as the head of Odysseyware, and she’s made a giant impact. Along with grading all of the work, Tucker checks up on the students on a regular basis to make sure they’re getting all of their work done. Tucker said she’s had students be quite surprised that there’s someone that cares enough about them and their grades to check up on them. Someone in her position can have a lot of impact on students, especially if they aren’t cared about at home.
“Jane has been instrumental in making sure students are on top of getting everything done, and it’s made a huge difference,” Cox said. “Usually after the first quarter we have seven or eight kids finish a quarter, but this year we had nearly 30.”
A lot of students prefer to take the class online instead of in the actual classroom. They feel as though they get more out of it, being able to complete it at their own pace. Senior Hannah Ostraff missed a semester of school because she was in Ireland, but through Odysseyware she was able to complete the work. She has mixed feelings about her experience with the program.
“I took four classes online: English, math, science and financial lit,” Ostraff said. “Financial lit was definitely easier than I’ve heard the class here is. I took math before it switched to Odysseyware and when I took it it was horrible. The English I enjoyed because it was mostly just reading and then talking about what you read, and the science was fine but the only hard part was there were some labs and because I wasn’t here I couldn’t do them.”
Ostraff was unable to receive valuable instruction in the classroom, which is a problem for a lot of students. Online education is not the optimal for students to learn. Learning in an actual classroom from an actual teacher is much more beneficial.
“I definitely think it’s better to do it in the class because you get that instruction. There’s a lot of kids that didn’t pay attention in class on how to do an argumentative essay for example so now they have to do it online and there’s no physical instruction, there’s written instruction, but I just think hands on is so much better and we have such great teachers to help,” Tucker said.
Senior Emily Barker has taken P.E. and Government through Odysseyware instead of in the class. She found that taking online courses is worthless for her because she’s not actually getting anything worthwhile out of the class.
“I think you could get by without gaining any knowledge,” Barker said. “Odysseyware doesn’t really teach kids.”