The Online Option

Students are signing a petition to include IB English as an online class

The+Online+Option

Faith Roach

It is that time of year again, enrollment. Juniors, sophomores, and freshmen are scanning through class listings, planning the next step in their academic journey. However, some students were surprised to find that their options are not as open this year.

“When enrolling for classes this spring, the option for IB English online was not available, and students already enrolled in the IB class felt that it was unfair,” junior Jaelynn Middleton said. “Students should have the online option for their best academic performance and comfortability level with the current situation of the pandemic, also other factors such as mental health or home life.”

About 40 students have signed a petition in the hopes that the school will bring back IB English and possibly other IB classes. 

“The petition is being sent to students that are currently enrolled in IB English online and would like to stay online for that class for next school year. I hope the students who want to take online next year will stand up and sign,” Middleton said.

Unfortunately, the district has to take into account a higher power when it comes to IB.

I hope the students who want to take online next year will stand up and sign”

— Jaelynn Middleton

“The process for IB classes is a little bit different from other courses that exist in the Lee’s Summit School District just because the IB is an international organization that is working with schools from a hundred plus different countries,” IB coordinator Matthew Buxton said. 

Buxton believes that changing IB classes to an online format could be difficult.

“One of the challenges comes from the idea that the courses were never designed to be online. We put them online because of a crisis situation. The original intent for the courses was to be in person.” Buxton said. “In particular I think that has to do with the completion of IB assessments and internal assessments, things like that, that are designed to be done in the classroom.”

However, Buxton can imagine IB taking steps towards an online-friendly curriculum in the future.

“I think that we can see from this year and last year that as time goes on it’s probably more likely that there will be more course offerings online. I’m sure that’s something that IB will look at in the future,” Buxton said.

Current IB English online teacher, Vickie Metzler sees a different problem with the class.

“Using Google Meets and hybrid learning models worked well enough for us in IB English this year. I feel like we’ve been able to cover material at the same pace,” Metzler said. “The problems with technology connections and the formality of our discussions, however, were not ideal. I think the face-to-face instruction is more engaging and opens up additional instructional tools that just don’t work while learning from a distance.”

Bonding over shared literary experiences is a key aspect of the course that I haven’t quite figured out how to replicate for the online student”

— Vickie Metzler

Metzler would like to see some changes in the format before teaching another year of online IB English.

“I would not support an online version of this class unless regular class meetings or reliable Google Meets were requirements. While online students may be able to read all of the literature, answer questions about the texts, and write papers or make recordings in response to what they’ve read, they are missing out on the great discussions that take place in an IB English classroom where students share insight, ask important questions, and bring alternate perspectives. Bonding over shared literary experiences is a key aspect of the course that I haven’t quite figured out how to replicate for the online student,” Metzler said.

This past school year has demonstrated that online classes can be a necessary solution when students are unable to come into school. However, there is still a lot of progress to be made before online students can boast an academic experience equal to their in-person counterparts.