New Online Learning Options at MCDS

This semester, Miami Country Day School has joined something known as the Hybrid Learning Consortium (HLC). The HLC is a group of fourteen independent schools that have joined together to provide online high school courses not typically available in the physical classroom. This online medium offers the ability for disciplined high school students to take classes that would not fit due to scheduling conflicts as well as the opportunity to have an expanded selection catering to more diverse interests. This new option is expected to be available to sophomores through seniors in the coming year.

Due to a scheduling conflict that I encountered earlier in the year, I was offered the chance to take an online Humanistic course through the HLC this semester to obtain a semester credit. The course, titled ‘Global Perspectives Through Music,’ is a course that looks at different kinds of music from around the world and music’s place in society. This mix of anthropology and music study is commonly known as ethnomusicology. As a musician, I thought that this would be the best fit for me when looking at the available classes.

When taking an online class with no on-campus teacher, it is very important to remain on top of all the work. My class is formatted so there are assignments throughout the week with recommended due dates and a final, required due date at the end of the week. It’s really easy to fall behind during the week and then spend hours catching up on a Sunday afternoon. Finding time to have conversations with the teacher is also often difficult. Initially, we tried to have a meeting with the teacher, Chris Powers, as a group with all of the MCDS kids enrolled, but we soon realized that it was easier to have one-on-one meetings because it was tough to find a time when everyone was free. Having meetings with Mr. Powers allows me to make sure that I stay on top of everything while answering any questions that I may have had about the material.

It is important to pick a course that especially interests you when taking an online class because of the need to be self-driven. I chose one dealing in global music and culture because I was interested in both anthropology and musicology. The online format allowed me to delve deeper into something that interested me and that probably would not be offered in a classroom at MCDS. If I had picked something that did not particularly interest me but that I needed to get credit in, I probably would not be enjoying it as much as I am now because I would have little desire to do the work in my own time.

Online based classes are an excellent opportunity to obtain academic credit in a schedule that is difficult to work with. They are not something to be taken lightly, however, as their workload is not something that can be handled at the last minute. Online classes are definitely only for individuals that can handle the self-driven study that is required to succeed. However, if taken, they can be excellent opportunities to learn subjects unavailable in traditional classrooms.