Schools ride new wave of technology
Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

By Rachel Harms (Grade 12)

It used to be that when you walked into a classroom, you'd see the students sitting at desks and the teacher at the chalkboard. Now, a lot of these traditional classrooms are being changed by computers. More and more schools are converting some of their courses into online courses.

Garden Valley Collegiate recently did this, although so far, it has only two English courses online. In British Columbia, most high-school courses are available online. The inclass versions of these classes are still offered, but the students also get a chance to participate in the newest wave of technology.

Some of the teachers enjoy the fact that they can be at home, and still teach. They send their assignments to students over the computer. The downside is that these teachers don't have one-on-one contact with their students.

Students' marks are generally better in the online courses. Most online students are already very comfortable with computers, so the course is easier for them.

Administrators are still a little hesitant about online courses -- they are expensive, and they are fairly new, so problems may occur. Teachers at schools like GVC have had to develop their own courseware. The Manitoba Department of Education has not yet created any online courses, but presently it is looking into this approach. British Columbia, on the other hand, has a team of instructional designers who create the courseware and send it to the teachers.

This new approach to education changes the workload for would-be teachers as well. Most of them will need a working knowledge of computers and the Internet to get a job in a school with online courses.

Larry Danielson, one of the online teachers at Garden Valley Collegiate, says: "Those teachers who can teach well in a classroom and online will be more employable than those who can only teach in the traditional way."

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