Lisa Duty, the Director of External Affairs at KnowledgeWorks, reported from the Ohio State Capitol during Wednesday’s first-event Digital Learning Day:

On February 1st, 2012 Chairman Gerald Stebelton and the Ohio House of Representatives’ Education Committee heard testimony from Tom Vander Ark, Ohio education leaders, parents and teachers who stood before the Committee in support of digital learning.  In a standing-room only session, four students wowed the Committee and the audience with their poise, intelligence and ability to clearly and passionately communicate their belief in digital learning.  Chairman Gerald Stebelton said of these four students: “You are a credit to your generation.”  We agree.

Below, four outstanding students share their testimonies on digital learning:

Hamilton Ingwerson, ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) 

Hello, my name is Hamilton Ingwersen, and I am a 15-year-old high school Junior at ECOT, a full-time online school, and I currently live in Columbus. If I were not attending ECOT, I would be in the Old Town East school district.

I am dedicated to going to college, and I hope to enter in to a pre-med program and eventually become a Surgeon. I enjoy playing sports, dancing, piano and making costumes, and I have a serious dedication to both design and the medical field.

I chose digital learning because I did not have an alternative. My sister had already been attending ECOT for two years prior and as my school district is not known for its fabulous schools, I had to attend ECOT. Little did I know, however, digital learning would open more gateways than I could ever have imagined. I never thought for a moment that I would leave my 100-student grade school and be in high school, getting out of bed at 9 and turning on a computer. I didn’t think that my printer and scanner would directly affect my grade.

This type of schooling has allowed me to have freedom. I am able to finish my work in advance, and then go out Skiing in Nevada, and I can get extra rest or take days off, and I can have more real-world experience. I am also afforded the luxury of not having to deal with bullies or cliques. Of course, I miss seeing friends daily and doing laps around a gym, but then I stop and think- I couldn’t be more lucky to have ECOT if I tried.

I have a direct line to my teachers, who always remember my name, for help all day- not just after class; And there is heavy interaction between students, especially in our classes, known as WebEx seminars.

There is a certain learning curve- you must be dedicated, punctual, self-motivated, focused and able to restrain yourself from procrastination- but I would not say it is a serious burden. These are innate skills that we’ll require later in life, and online school does well to train them, so that when we emerge, we have all the life skills, and no drama.

This school is not just for dropouts, or for the kids who are struggling. It is also for the brilliant students who need more intellectual nourishment.

I thank you for your time, and your willingness to listen.

Jordan Randolph, Winton Woods Academy of Global Studies

Good afternoon, I’m Jordan Randolph, a ninth grader at Winton Woods High School, which is in Cincinnati, and I am in a program within my district, which is called the Academy of Global Studies. The main parts of my program are project-based learning and a technology centered way of communication and research, and this is also the first program of its kind in the Winton Woods school district. The main goal of this program is for students to gain a global perspective, which they can always apply to real-world problems. Compared to schools I have been in without much technology, I prefer one with technology, because in my experience, the technology has sped up school work, I feel more motivated, and it allows variety into a school’s curriculum.  I have always been curious about why things are the way that they are, or how many ways a problem can be solved, and I feel like a technologically oriented education can help all learners of any age to become more able.

This past week I had just finished a project about imperialism, and because my group and I wanted a variety of important information on the subject, we used multiple sources from our computers. With all of our members researching, we finished gathering a large amount of information in a small amount of time with little trouble. The technology that we have at my school has allowed me to work with my group members at any time because of an application called Google Docs. For example, if one of my assignments for a class was to write a paper in my group, we could all work on the same paper simultaneously from home, and anything a group member would change on the paper would be changed in real-time on all of our computers. This has helped us to catch any mistakes that may have been made by any group members, and dramatically speeds up our projects. My favorite thing about a more electronic based education is that I can use almost anything from the internet to help me to understand a subject and that I can communicate with almost anyone in the world. For instance, in my history class, we have plans to communicate with students in Spain soon to find out how other people learn other than just people in America. I will say that my current experience in a technologically-oriented school has been much better compared to a traditional school; I can do everything faster, have better quality work, and I have felt that I have been understanding more than ever before in school, as could other students across the world with technologically-based learning. 

Drew Lovejoy, Ohio Connections Academy

Hi My name is Terrance Andrew Lovejoy, but everyone calls me Drew. I am a 16-year-old Senior and live in Greenville.  Greenville is in Darke County and if I attended a traditional brick & mortar I would be in the Greenville City School District.  Instead, my school of choice, Ohio Connections Academy, is a full time eschool.

Now that I’ve introduced myself, I would like to explain why my family & I have chosen digital learning.  I am a highly competitive Irish dancer, currently ranked #1 in the World.  I am also one of the youngest North American males to ever win a World title or All Ireland National title, and the first person of color in the world to win either championship. I am not mentioning this to brag about myself, but in an effort to help explain that without Eschooling I don’t believe that I would have achieved these accomplishments.

You see, Eschooling allows me the opportunity and flexibility to train, practice and travel while still receiving an excellent education.  My teachers at OCA are always available to me – just a phone call or email away.  They will set up private, live chat lessons where we are able to utilize a white board online so that I can see the work as they walk me thru the lesson.  This is especially helpful in Math & Science where formulas are used. With the flexibility OCA offers, I am able to travel overseas to Major competitions 2-3 times a year.  Because of my training, every day is different for me. I am never online the same time each day due to my schedule.  In fact I leave next week for Ireland where I hope to defend my All Ireland National championship for the 3rd time.  My schooling travels right along with me…even across the pond.

Because of the support of the entire staff at OCA, I have been able to maintain a 4.0 grade point average while I chase my dreams.  I have recently been accepted into the National Honor Society. OCA offers many clubs and social activities where the students can meet and interact.

When people find out that I attend an online school, I get 2 reactions.  From other kids I get, “you’re so lucky you can sleep in and do nothing all day.”  From adults I hear, “How are you going to get into college?”

To my fellow teenagers I usually say “I can sleep in but I have all the same laws and regulations you have.  I just have the flexibility to school when it works best for me.”

As for college, several schools are recruiting me for my dancing and academic accomplishments.  Even though I haven’t decided where I will attend next fall I believe if I hadn’t had the opportunity of Eschooling – my life and future would have a completely different outcome.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity and honor of sharing my story with you. 

Faith Washington, Reynoldsburg High School

Hi, my name is Faith Washington and I am a senior at Reynoldsburg High School in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. I am a member of the NSHSS, National Society of High School Scholars, a teammate of the ‘Reynoldsburg Lady Raiders Track Team’, and the Executive International Learning Coordinator of our Student Government. My academic interests are in Chinese language and literature, International Business, and the importance of social networking. Given that Reynoldsburg is a traditional public school that integrates learning technology, I am granted access to what study materials we do have in order to ensure a proper learning experience.

Just this past Fall, my classmates and I were given the opportunity to study online languages such as French, Latin, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, etc,. After taking three years of French, using in-class text books, and sitting next to students who may or may not have been as interested in the class as I was, I wanted to try something new so I signed up to take my first online class. I wanted to escape getting mixed up with students who often over-socialize in this shared academic environment which plays a part in a student’s ability to learn. I am currently taking online Chinese. My online Chinese course is so exciting I often forget to switch back to English. “Dui bu qi, Wo de Zhongwen bu hao” meaning ‘I’m sorry, but my Chinese isn’t that good’ (for now)*.

I found that taking this online class was a breath of fresh air! It allows me the time to focus on my athletics and other out-of-school activities just as much as my other studying routines. I took the initiative to find other students taking the same online course, and I exchanged my contact information with them for further studying opportunities. I found that these classmates, some with laptops, some with only a pad of paper and a pencil, are all determined to get through their study with less outside distractions, more useful study materials and more relevant social networking. I recall the summer of 2010, when I was in France trying to apply the knowledge I had so diminutively learned due to in-class distractions. The difference is the technology and the students’ commitment to learning. So, I stand before you now expressing a great appreciation for Ohio’s digital learning. I have been able to focus in on my learning experiences, discipline my prioritizing; and expand my social abilities in new ways. I can only hope there are efforts to support online learning with more resources in the future.  Thank you.

3 COMMENTS

  1. These were some of the most impressive kids I have ever seen: A Mandarin-Speaking track star headed to Vandy, the #No. 1 ranked Irish Dancer in the world! An uber-confident honor student! Future is in good hands with this bunch!

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