Online courses are a life-saver
Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

By Mike Reimer (Grade 12)

In my third year of high school, during class sign-up day, I decided to try out the Co-op Education program. It was an on-the-spot decision and I thought it would be a great experience. Along with Co-op Ed, I decided to sign up for Online English. The line was pretty long and I had doubts of getting in. I knew I had the necessary computer skills to keep up with the other students. I kept thinking about Co-op Ed. and how an on-line course could help me out. What I didn't know was that it would change my life in many ways.

Everyone said online courses were easier and that no work was involved. But I've found there was a lot of work involved -- in class, out of class, and even in the process of making and maintaining the class.

In a recent interview, conducted online, I talked with Larry Danielson. Mr. Danielson is the "head cheese" of this operation, with the help of many others, including Mr. Lawrence Peters, and Ms. Shauna Wiebe. A total of one year went into preparing for the online courses at Garden Valley Collegiate. A lot of time and research effort went into the courses to see what was involved, what was needed, and how it could become a reality at the school.

The school is always open to new ideas and when Mr. Peters and Mr. Danielson came up with a proposal for the funding, the school was open to hearing it. At the time, the process went pretty much unnoticed by students.

"I began thinking about a communications and telecommunications course in the spring of 1993," says Larry Danielson. "We began delivery of this course in the fall of 1995."

At that point, the necessary funding was received and, for the students, the opportunity was there for the taking.

"In the three years that we have been delivering on-line, approximately 150 Garden Valley Collegiate students have been able to work online," says Danielson.

Many teachers have worried that these online courses would be a hassle and might interfere with normal inclass learning. But that is not Danielson's view.

"I consider the virtual class as 'real' as one that meets face-to-face," he says.

Danielson and others see the online classes just as useful, if not more so, as inclass classes. With the times changing just as rapidly as the technology, schools need to be aware of the online classes.

This helps them to keep up with the needs of today's jobs and society. Students who do get accepted into the online class are usually more advanced in their computing skills but they don't have to be really great in English.

There is no shortage of people signing up for the G.V.C. online classes. Some students want to get into the courses, but are turned away simply because it would take to long to teach them the computing basics. Marks in the online courses often go up for students. For most, it is a way to get the class work done neatly and on time and still be able to talk with their friends.

Teachers at G.V.C. are accepting these courses like any others and know that the times and their courses will continue to change. Students find online learning very helpful. Some, like me, have computers at home and can use their whole afternoon to finish their class work. We can do it from the comfort of our homes. Home access to school work is a lot more convenient and helps out one's everyday life. The attitude of those online students I interviewed seems to be very positive towards the classes and most, if not all, want to be a part of them.

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