Every day, 33-thousand Ohio students attend class not in a building, but through their laptops. The trend of online education has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last ten years. But what's it like to take an online class? Or teach one? StateImpact Ohio's Ida Lieszkovzky has this audio postcard of a day in the life of a teacher and a student at ECOT - the state's largest online school.
Treva: Ok my name's Treva Matalon and I'm a 9th grade English teacher at the 9th grade Academy in ECOT.
Treva: We average about 45 students per class and we teach two lengths a day. So out of about 140 students on any given day we are in class with about 90 students and it is it's a very interactive, I mean people always say oh I took some college courses online I know what it's like but it's very different because these are live sessions.
Treva: Now here's my classroom. This is we're on unit 2 right now.
Treva: Ok guys we are going to go ahead and get started.
Treva: Caitlin reading … fade under
Treva: They can read the story or they can listen to the story while they're reading the story we also have a prezi it has the movie the most dangerous game.
(Sounds of most dangerous game movie … fade out)
Clinton: My name is Clinton Zehr. I'm from Columbus Ohio. I do ECOT as my online school and I'm a singer songwriter and so the flexibility and everything is really awesome because I can be writing songs and go to Nashville and stuff without having to have a super structured school that I have to be in the classroom every day at.
Clinton: On a typical day I wake up, it's kind of nice you can kind of wake up whatever time you want but I like to wake up relatively early so I can kind of get a good start on my day. And you just go on line. Typing Then right when it pops up you have all your classes and you have a little browser that has you can attend class, student orientation, my events they offer events like chances to go to Zoombezy Bay, Cedar Point, and stuff like that so you're not completely out of the loop socially which is cool.
Clinton: Yeah but this link just isn't opening up. And sometimes you do just have trouble with links like that.
Treva: You know when I talk to people about our pages at ecot I say how many of you have ever seen the movie harry potter before and how when he opens the books the pages come to life and I say that's what the text is like at ecot
Treva: People question 'do you miss the 1 on 1 relationships with your students?' You have them and it's hard to believe and I'm going to tell you this and you won't believe me. You have much closer relationships with the students than you did in a class in a brick and mortar and the reason why is you're calling them constantly you know you're talking to them. I say okay everyone here's your annotation tool go up to the white board and write the answer for this you'll have 20 kids up there. If you did that in a classroom you'd have a stampede, somebody could get hurt.
Clinton: I switched to ECOT because I'm a musician and so there are times when like this year I was able to go down to Nashville because I didn't have a structured school day where you have to be in school from 8 to 3 every day.
(:05 Clinton playing his music, fade out)
Clinton: I came from a Christian school and so the curriculum is definitely easier than a Christian school would be but it is definitely a little bit more challenging than I expected because you are doing a lot of reading it's not necessarily all videos where you're just watching videos and can zone out you have to be focusing on what you're reading or you really will miss stuff.
Treva: You do not have discipline problems. Ever. You never have discipline problems. The most you have is asking kids to focus and keep their chat on topic. If they're throwing a paper airplane in a brick and mortar classroom you have a problem. If they're sitting at their desk and they throw a paper airplane I don't know it and it's not going to distract the other kids.
Treva: You know I truly feel like I am a pioneer in what education is going to look like for the next 50 years.