While live online courses have certain similarities to traditional courses at a brick-and-mortar school, there are different skills required from our online families and their students. Provided are some pointers on how both the primary educator and the student can plan for a successful year in online courses! If your student is not enrolled at Kolbe Academy, please reference the article "Discerning Student Readiness for Online Classes".
Review: Technical Requirements
- Computer – Laptop or Desktop (Tablets not recommended. Chromebooks are permitted if they meet the “Dedicated Computer” requirements listed in the Technical Requirements article.)
- Headset with microphone
- Digital camera and/or scanner
- High-speed internet
- Student planner, use Kolbe’s planner or another brand
- Notebooks, paper, pens, pencils
- Whiteboard – required for K-5 students and optional for 6-12 students
- Texts for online courses. Some courses may require additional supplies such as a calculator for math or lab kits for science labs.
- Noise-cancelling headset
- Second monitor for 6-12th grade students
- Comfortable chair or standing desk
- K-2 students are not expected to be proficient in typing.
- 3-5 students should have basic familiarity with the keyboard and should work up to 30 words by the end of 5th grade.
- 6-12 students should be typing at minimum 25-30 words per minute; however, many students can pick up their speed to this minimum quickly after a few weeks of online courses. We advise students to practice touch typing skills prior to the start of online courses.
Tips for the Primary Educator
Along with reviewing the following recommendations, please review the “Parent Role in an Online Course” section of the Parent and Student Handbook.
Create a Home Study Space
Provide your child with a suitable location for studying and participating in live class.
Create a filing system with folders to track complete, submitted, or needs-to-be-submitted assignments. Depending upon the age of the student, this can be a physical or digital filing system.
Keep a bookshelf, box, or crate of school supplies or books nearby.
Keep distractions to a minimum during “school hours”. This may mean keeping video games and other electronics out of sight and turning off cell phones.
Set up your home internet security or monitoring system to ensure your students are focused on their live classes while using their computer. We encourage families to listen to the “Digital Citizens” podcast featuring a cybersecurity specialist who discusses computer safety.
Complete Schoology's Orientation Course
Kolbe provides several ways for students and families to “orient” themselves to our online courses and technology platforms.
- Student Orientation Course - a Self-Paced course allowing students to familiarize themselves with technology and our school rules. This course typically opens for students in the first week of August and is required to be completed before live classes begin. Parents are expected to complete this course with students in the K-5 online program.
- Parent Orientation – live webinars are offered multiple times before and after the first few weeks of school. Parents are required to attend one parent orientation webinar or watch the recording if there are time conflicts.
Attendance and Participation
Regularly attending and participating in classes is key to student success. Please see our school calendar to ensure you and your student are aware when live classes are scheduled. In situations when a student may be unable to attend class, the online instructor should be notified.
While all live courses are recorded, student engagement and learning tend to be much lower when students watch course recordings. While recordings are provided for all courses, Kolbe requires regular attendance and class participation. Please review the full absence policies in the Parent and Student Handbook.
The most common reason students get poor grades in online courses is due to missing or late assignments. Receiving a grade of zero on a missing assignment makes it very difficult to maintain good grades in the course.
Parents have access to their students’ grades in Schoology throughout the year and can easily check to see when assignments are missing or late. They can also set up notifications to send weekly reports on their students’ grades to ensure that everything is turned in on time. (Please see our Help Center's articles on Schoology for more information.) We suggest checking in at the following intervals:
For K-5 students, the primary educator should complete a daily Schoology check-in. For older students who successfully submitting assignments on their own and follow the instructor’s suggested pacing of assignments, the primary educator can complete a weekly check-in. We suggest completing the check-in on Thursday evenings.
For 6-12 students, the primary educator should have a daily Schoology check-in at the start of the school year. If the student is successful with managing their course load and submitting assignments, the parent can move to twice-a-week check-ins.
A primary educator is required to proctor exams and quizzes for their student. Please be aware of exam schedules for proctoring requirements and be sure to adhere to exam and testing guidelines as outlined by each individual instructor. Please view the full proctoring requirements in the “Parent Role in an Online Course” section of the Parent and Student Handbook.
While there are live “in-class” components of your online class where attendance is required, much of the work for the class is done outside of live class time. The flexibility of not having to spend all day in class really allows students to work around extra-curricular activities and family schedules. This flexibility, however, can be a huge drawback to students who are prone to procrastination or who struggle with maintaining a study routine without constant reminders from a parent or instructor. Students who succeed in the online environment are those who come to class on time, log into Schoology daily, and work on making progress every day.
To be effective at time management, follow these tips:
Plan a weekly schedule for yourself that builds in time to do “out-of-class” work every day for each online class you are taking. If you like to keep Fridays free for traveling or extracurricular activities, make sure you build in extra “out of class” work time Monday-Thursday.
Most courses will have major assignments due at some point during the semester, such as papers, projects, lab reports, or exams. Keep track of the due dates for these major assignments and mark them on the calendar as soon as you have that information.
Use a daily planner to make a “To-Do” list for your day and check items off the list as you complete them. It takes time to develop good habits, but over time, you’ll start to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from being well-organized and accomplishing important tasks.
Do not get behind! One of the biggest triggers for the downward spiral into failing an online class is a student who puts off or gets behind on work. Stick to deadlines and avoid excuses.
Do not wait to upload an assignment until five minutes before the deadline. Be conscientious of deadlines and be proactive about getting them in on time.
Tips for Students
Kolbe believes taking notes during live classes and when reading their textbooks is the most effective way for students to retain information. Students should not expect teachers to provide notes or PowerPoint presentations to use as their notes.
Effective and Appropriate Communication Skills
Kolbe’s online instructors are always willing to help students. Since you are not in a traditional classroom setting, instructors can’t always pick up on nonverbal cues such as a frown of misunderstanding. Your instructor can’t help if he doesn’t know you are having problems with the technology, the course materials, or the lecture. You should always contact your instructor if any problem arises. The following sections provide tips on how to improve communication.
Use Appropriate Language for School
While you may be accustomed to using informal grammar and language in chat rooms, emails or text messages with friends, when communicating with your online instructors or other administration, you should write in full, grammatically correct sentences and with a respectful tone. Online instructors are professionals and should be treated with courtesy and respect. Sometimes it is tempting or easy to write things out of anger or frustration because communication is not in person. If you wouldn’t say something in person, do not type it in an email or chat box.
Communication with Your Instructor
There are many ways to communicate with your instructors, including email, chats, and discussion groups. There is also live class-time communication and sometimes additional live office hours with the instructors. Learn the communication preferences of your online instructor, but remember that they have lives outside of school, too! They are only required to check their email and messages once per school day Monday-Friday (this does not include holidays and feast days the school is closed). Many of them are in class all day long. Do not expect answers to questions over the weekend, but don’t be shy about using these tools to communicate with your instructor.
If a student emails an instructor, “I don’t understand the homework,” this is not only unhelpful to the instructor, but it is going to cause a delay in you receiving help as they will have to write back to inquire as to what the problem is. Use the following guidelines to write your initial email to help you receive fruitful replies from your instructor:
- Describe the problem you are having and about how much time you have spent on trying to solve or understand it yourself
- Include what you have already tried to attempt to solve the problem
- Include page numbers or other relevant references
The online learning environment provides plenty of avenues to interact with fellow classmates, instructors, and administrators, such as discussion groups, chat boxes, and myKolbe email addresses. Students should think about whether a comment or behavior is something that they would do in a physical school or classroom. If they wouldn’t, then it’s also not appropriate in an online classroom. It is especially distracting to have jokes, comments, or side conversations in live classes or in course Schoology discussions. Remember:
- Stay on topic
- Be respectful towards the moderator and other students
- Use appropriate language
THINK before you type:
Is it True,
is it Helpful,
is it Inspiring,
is it Necessary,
and is it Kind?
Remember, your comments are marked in print forever. If you don’t want a parent or instructor to read the comment later, don’t type it.
The Core Rules of Netiquette are excerpted from the book Netiquette by Virginia Shea. Click on each rule for elaboration.
Rule 1: Remember the Human
Rule 2: Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life
Rule 3: Know where you are in cyberspace
Rule 5: Make yourself look good online
Rule 6: Share expert knowledge
Rule 8: Respect other people’s privacy
Rule 9: Don’t abuse your power