by Lucy Kuchma ‘18
Within the last decade, several alternative learning opportunities have emerged as more efficient, practical ways of teaching students outside of the traditional classroom setting. The 21st century has seen the emergence of online schools, wholly dedicated to giving students a complete education without ever requiring them to step out their front door.
With the growing popularity of online learning programs, students have begun to experiment with dual enrollment, or being enrolled in both a public or private education as well as an online one. Within Montgomery County, Montgomery College (MC) offers programs for high school students that provide them with educational experience not available at a secondary level.
A few of the major reasons behind students engaging in a dual enrollment education are to lower the tuition of their eventual college, and to shorten the time they need to spend in a classroom after they graduate high school. Courses offered by MC range in cost, but are almost always substantially less per course than the traditional versions of the courses.
Additionally, students are able get required college courses out of the way so that they don’t need to waste time taking them when they do attend traditional college, if that is the path they choose. This allows them to enter the workforce and begin specializing in their professional field earlier.
In specific cases, when a course is not offered at the high school level, students can take MC courses online in order to continue to receive credit to fulfill graduation requirements. In the past, for example, Sherwood students have taken advantage of this resource by necessity, when they have completed all of the courses that MCPS high schools offer when it comes to mathematics. Of course, these students are all still enrolled in Sherwood, and they take the rest of their normal courses in the classroom. However, they are also technically enrolled as students of MC, as they are taking classes through the school as well.
The design of the courses are often such that there are no “classes” of students, meaning that one has no idea who is doing the same assignments and taking the same examinations along with them as the course progresses. This is typical of an online learning environment, a scenario in which the content is directed toward each and every student on their own. One must understand when taking a course like this, the personalized concept implies an absence of peers to help with work when things don’t make sense, but also the opportunity to focus completely on one’s own learning without distraction.
The dual enrollment learning style is a unique one in that there is an individual aspect, and a collaborative aspect, allowing a student to experience both classroom learning and the nontraditional online experience.