Online Learning

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Buses, bells and uniforms -- that’s the high school experience for most people. However, there’s a new kind of student emerging, the kind, like me, who takes classes online. 

I'm a sophomore in high school and this semester, I started taking an online psychology course on top of my regular workload. There are assignments due every day by midnight -- like reading an article by a psychologist, or watching a TED talk and then making a comment on the video. I participate in Skype chats, discussing lessons with the other 15 or so students, who live all around the globe -- from Beijing to Pennsylvania.

I have attention difficulties, so it's easy to assume that taking classes online would be challenging for me. And it does present a new set of distractions. Like, whenever my crush posts something on Twitter, a notification pops up at the corner of my laptop screen. I'll glance at the first few words but when it disappears my fingers itch to check it... 

However, life in the "real world" also poses its own set of challenges, and for me, that's Honors U.S. History. 

At my school, the history classrooms are positioned right above a patio, where students hang out during their free periods. When it gets hot, all the windows are open, the fans are blowing, and I can hear conversations and laughter from the kids outside. If you compare this to timelines, memorizing dates, and analyzing primary sources, you can understand why I often find my mind wandering. 


But in my online course, I can determine my own learning environment. I usually go home, have a snack, and then lock myself in my bedroom to seal out potential distractions. And it works.

I'm not saying I would swap all my in-person classes for online ones. There's something about the human connections I get at school. Like fist bumping my math teacher in the hallway.

But for me, online courses are important too, because they expand what's possible, giving me a way to take classes I wouldn't normally be able to access. And I get to do it in my pajamas.

With a Perspective, I'm Nila Venkat.

Nila Venkat is 15 and goes to high school in Oakland. Her commentary was produced by Youth Radio.