Hillsboro Online Academy Director Talks about the Hidden Challenges and Benefits of Virtual Learning | Local News

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HILLSBORO, OR (KPTV) – With school districts planning to eventually switch to online learning until at least November, virtual learning is nothing new for a district in Oregon.

As the state’s first non-chartered online school, Hillsboro Online Academy has been providing families and students in the Hillsboro School District with virtual learning for nearly a decade.

“We were kind of pioneers,” said Linda Harrington, director of Hillsboro Online Academy.

Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, Harrington says it’s his school that other districts are turning to.

“It’s fascinating, because there has always been this’ what is an online school? Why would you want to go to an online school? And yet, comments from some of my own staff friends who are teachers in the community said, “wow, you can really keep in touch with your students,” Harrington said.

Harrington says keeping in touch with students means everyone is on the same page from the start.

“Make sure you have a solid, comprehensive and totally in-depth orientation at the start of the year for the student and the family,” Harrington said. “It is absolutely essential that they understand how to do school online.”

So how do you go to school online?

Harrington recommends not having too many large group sessions, but instead offering set times for students and parents to discuss homework with teachers.

“So a parent or student could click and say, ‘hey, we need some help guiding my student on this’ or it could be’ hello English teacher, can you talk to me? Can you explain this? Harrington said.

As for keeping students excited about learning throughout the school year, Harrington says you need to have an engaging curriculum – not just a busy job. And students should also know that teachers are watching them.

“Whether it’s just to tell them what a great job they’re doing on that opening sentence of their paragraph or whether it’s suggesting changes in what they’re doing to strengthen what they’re writing. Just solid feedback,” Harrington said.

Harrington’s final tip:

“Don’t try to do too much. Don’t try to reinvent your online classroom because it’s a whole different environment and be sure to connect with the student before doing schoolwork.” , Harrington said. “It just has to be this relationship that they see you, they know you. They learn a little bit about you and then let’s start something.”

Harrington says that in order to work online, parents must also provide support and regularly monitor their child’s work.

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