BOCES has some new additions to its curriculum for students interested in exploring the world of online education:
Self-starter? Check. Computer literate? Check. Independent researcher? Double check. The checklist of things a college student needs to succeed in the 21st century is already ticked off for high school participants in the Online Courses for the 21st Century at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES.
In its second year, the OC21 program is gaining momentum fast.
“We’re adding five new courses next year, and we’ve taken on four new districts this year,” said project coordinator Art Buchman at the symposium held on the BOCES campus yesterday. The symposium gives students one of two opportunities a year to meet with their teacher — and each other — in a real rather than a virtual classroom.
While the students appreciate meeting each other in the flesh, it’s a generation that is comfortable with an online presence, and OC21 allows them to take a class that might not be offered in their home school.
“This experience made me a lot more comfortable using a computer,” said Yorktown High School student Jesser Horowitz, who is taking the History of Media and Presidential Elections course taught by Travis Hayes, a teacher at Lakeland High School. “The only thing I wish was different about the course is that it was longer,” Jesser said.
Fellow online classmate Sabrena Sabet from Lakeland agrees. “It’s a great program, and it’s really helpful for getting prepared for college,” she said.
Among other online course offerings are Architecture, Introduction to Anthropology, and Historical Geology and Paleontology.
While the novelty of online classrooms may have brought students to these classes, it’s the college preparation that’s keeping them coming back.
“I think this class has given me a more direct college experience,” said Nicholas Jacobino from Walter Panas. “You have to be on top of your work and more self-sufficient, which is great preparation for college.” Nicholas doesn’t think that communication between his classmates has suffered from not learning together in the same room. “I love the open discussion page on the website,” he said. “Everyone really expresses their ideas.”