Update on the World/Chinese Language Online Teaching at RHHS Thursday, 2016-11-10. I was not able to attend this meeting because of another CA board meeting scheduled at the same time. A parent who attended this meeting shared this meeting summary with me.
Meeting minute of Chinese/World Language Teaching
Location：River Hill High School Media Center
Time：November 10th, 2016, 7:30pm
- 10 parents,
- River Hill High School Principal Kathryn McKinley.
- HCPSS central office Gina Massella, Administrative Director of High Schools, Robert Cole, Coordinator of Digital Education, Leslie Grahn, Coordinator of World Languages
- 2 IT technical staff supporting the online learning system
- Digital education staff did a brief demonstration on how the online system actually looks like to the students, and what students can do through the system, such as recording the teaching session, access to audio and video resources, raise questions to interact with the online teacher.
(I am going to aggregate some of the questions from different parents together based on their similarities on the main topic)
Q1: Why the Chinese Language Class was moved to online? It does not seem to be the best way to learn a foreign language, students need immersion. Is it a budget issue?
A1: This is not a budget issue. It is majorly because of the low enrollment. Class with enrollment under 15 will face either being canceled completely or being move to online. We, in RHHS, can not reach that enrollment criterion even after combining different levels of Chinese classes. This is not a question in debate, you have the choice either go online , or completely lose it.
Q2: Father of a student who works on College Park campus raised the concern that there is never going to be any face to face interaction between the student and the teacher through the entire time of the course. From his personal experience with College Park, online teaching always offers some kind of opportunity for the teacher to physically meet his students, either by a few face to face sessions at the beginning of the semester followed by online learning, or regular on-site Q & A sessions.
A2: No, there will not be any chance that the students can physically meet the teacher, but students can always ask questions during the online teaching, and email the teacher after the class. Parents can also schedule their annual parents teacher conference to meet the teacher personally.
Q3. More than one parents raised the concern that without the teacher onsite, their students will have less chance getting their pronunciation corrected, writing in a proper way, and will not have enough immersion to learn the language in the right way. Does the school district has data to backup the effectiveness of changing the language class from face to face to online?
A3: The online class are supposed to provide the same level of instruction to the online students ,comparing to the students actually sitting in the classroom. They should get the same attention, and knowledge. Chinese is not the only online course. Students have been taking online courses for other AP subjects all over the county, and that is the direction to go, especially when there is a limited enrollment. (No one from the school or district provided any actual data to back up the claim）
Q4: Is there any other support to make sure remote learning students are actually doing what they suppose to do on the computer during class time? Is there any chance for students to interact with native speakers?
A4: Support comes from 3 sources – online teacher,classroom assistant, native speaker visiting campus. Online teacher will be the sole source of academic teaching. Classroom assistant will be in the classroom to make sure the students are actually doing what they supposed to do, and help solving some technical issues, if there is any. But classroom assistant are not trained to answer questions about the subject. All questions should be direct to the teacher. Native speaker will be on campus twice a week Thursday & Friday during lunch time. Students can always take advantage of the opportunity.
Q5: Is there any possibility for the students to meet the teacher in person. Either transport the students or the teacher, may be just once a quarter?
A5: No. Transporting the students involves a lot of coordination, time and liability. The school district is not ready to do that. And every teacher is under the same contract with the district. Currently the general contract limits the teacher to commute and teach up to 2 schools. We need to take into consideration of their break time, lunch time, commute time etc. We just can not do that.
Q6: My daughter has problem with her homework, but can not get help from the teacher. During the class, she felt it was hard to find an opportunity to ask questions, because the teacher was always helping others.
A6: The students should definitely reach out directly to the teacher.We can try to talk to the teacher, make sure students’ questions get answered promptly. As to ask question during the class, even in a face to face environment, you always have to wait for others to finish in order to ask your own question.
Q7: Without face to face, how can a teacher know the student is writing the Chinese characters strokes in the right order?
A7: We have a place in the online system showing the order of strokes for the Chinese character students are learning. You can always use that as assistance.
Q8: Multiple students told their parents when they got into the online classroom, they usually find other students already started.
A8: Students from different schools should have the same class start time. We do not know why this happened, but we can check with the teacher.
Q9: My student want to quit after the first class, because the online system seems hard to use. Sometimes, it has technical problems. Is there a better online conference system you can consider? (from another parent)
A9: Again, we encourage students to keep trying and getting used to the system.We are on your side to address any technique issues as soon as it occurs. We chose the system, because we think it will work the best. So far, we have 8 school using the online system for different courses. If there is a strong reason the current system does not meet the students’ need, we definitely can consider alternatives.