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Part 2: Q & A with Leslie Fetzer

Posted on Jun 6, 2012

Last week, we had the chance to speak with award-winning, online teacher Leslie Fetzer about the blended learning program that she is involved in. Leslie then went into greater detail about the social aspects and advantages of online learning.

Q: After watching your video on YouTube over how you build relationships with your online students, I was wondering if you find it easier to connect and build relationships with students because computers and technology are now second nature to them?

A: Absolutely! I can reach students through a variety of methods, for example, text, email, phone calls, course messages, discussion boards, instant messaging. We have more opportunities to get to know our student than we ever had before.

Q: Are students’ social skills compromised with online learning?

A: Not at all. Online learning allows for stronger relationships and can even improve social skills. Digital communication is a huge part of society today and a necessary skill for any student to learn either through practice or through direct instruction. Shy students are able to communicate and break out of their shells in a way that feels safe for them. Communication is expanded beyond the school day giving online teachers the opportunity for more “teachable moments.”

Q: Why do some students choose online learning over traditional schooling methods?

A: There are many reasons. Rural schools may not offer a course that a student wants/needs to take. Some students want to accelerate their education. Others are recovering credit rather than being held back. In the case of the OCS Blended learning Program, they have access to the “highly qualified” content teacher.

Q: What advantages have you seen in your students taking online learning?

A: All students are very interested in using technology as part of their education. They are engaged students, which gives us more time for students to learn more, and in a personalized way.  For some of my students with disabilities, learning online means they can build student-teacher relationships in an environment that is comfortable for them. We really get to know our students online, but the perceived anonymity of the computer can help a student with autism really blossom.

Q: Do you prefer fully online learning or more of a blending learning style?

A: I like both. I feel that fully online meets the needs of some students, and blended meets the needs of others. I do feel that blended program is a great mix of the best of both worlds.

Q: Would you ever go back to a brick-and-mortar only school?

A: A year ago I would have said no way. Now I would consider it, but not the way it used to be. It would have to be as blended or flipped classroom.

Q: Do you think other states will follow North Carolina’s example and have online learning available for all students K-12?

A: I hope so! Especially our OCS Blended Learning Program. It’s amazing to see students with such learning challenges be able to pass the End of Course test. It’s incredibly rewarding as a teacher.

Q: What are some of your online teaching secrets to success?

A: The right curriculum is the starting off point. You have to understand every student has different learning needs and it is important to first look at the content that needs to be taught, and then choose the best technology for that content, and for that student.

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