Michigan Virtual High School Classes

Prerequisites for Taking a Virtual Class Part One

PART ONE of three (ALL THREE PARTS must be completed):  

1. Read "About Taking Class Online" Parts One and Two...located at the end of the three-step process

2. Based on these two readings, write a short assessment that addresses four points that are the most relevant to your learning style, or are things that you'll have to work on, or aspects of virtual learning that will be easy for you or that you are looking forward to.

Your assessment can be in list form.  Make note of the issue you are addressing and then explain how it relates to your learning style and study habits.

Example:

"The emphasis on being able to work alone could be problematic for me.  I usually need someone to help me monitor my progress and keep me on track."

3. Print this out, please sign, have your parents sign and have a teacher who has had you in class sign this print-out with their name and write the words "I Agree." 

Return to Mrs. Killinger with the other Prerequisite Assignments

Prerequisites for Taking a Virtual Class Part Two

PART TWO of three (ALL THREE PARTS must be completed):

Please take the self-evaluation quiz titled Online Learning Readiness Questionnaire.

**Print out your results (the window that opens with your score when you click on the IS IT FOR ME button) and turn these in to Mrs. Killinger (to print, you will need to copy the results and paste them into a Google Doc and print or share electronically).

Prerequisites for Taking a Virtual Class Part Three

PART THREE of three (ALL THREE PARTS must be completed):

Locate the course description of the Michigan Virtual High School Class(es) you wish to take.

Print this course description out, take it home to be signed by your parents, and return it to Mrs. Killinger.

Click on the class you wish to take and then click on the course title and copy and paste the course description.  A full course syllabus is also available below the course description, you are strongly encouraged to view this information before choosing a class.

What You Need to Know About Taking Courses Online Part One

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW - About Taking Courses Online PART ONE

You need to be aware.......that taking a course online is NOT EASY.  

It is a common misconception that virtual classes are easier than face-to-face classes.  This is absolutely not the case and it is very important that you understand this right away.

It is also a common misconception that virtual classes are self-paced.  This is not so.  Every course has a definite calendar and definite deadlines.  Pay attention.  It is your responsibility to meet the deadlines.  It is NOT the teacher's responsibility to make sure you are meeting deadlines.  Teachers may send you email remarking that you're behind schedule, but do not count on this kind of attention.  It is very easy to fall behind.  Once this happens, it is very difficult to catch up again.  Every MVHS instructor has different rules about late work. It is your responsibility to know what those rules are.  Your virtual teachers care very much about your success.  They are usually very willing to work with you to ensure that you finish and pass your course.  They will not, however, baby-sit you through the course. They will not remind you if you haven't turned assignments in.  If you are having problems with anything, it is your responsibility to speak up and let the instructor (and/or Ms. Killinger/Ms. Salyer) know. 

In many courses, you will be multitasking. There will be individual assignments, group assignments, discussions to take part in, and quizzes and tests to take. There is a lot to juggle so you will need stay focused and organized. In many courses, there are a lot of different areas in the classroom that you need to visit to get all the work done.  Again, it is essential that you stay focused and you will need to be able to follow step-by-step instruction. There is also a LOT of reading involved in taking an online course.  Take your time - read carefully and don't rush through any reading.

Many courses use Discussion Boards as part of the course.  If they do, participation is mandatory and counts toward your grade. Usually, the frequency of your participation is a basis for your grade - often, participation is expected on a DAILY basis.  Your participation grade is often dependent on the quality of your contributions, as well.

You need to consider how virtual classes are different and whether you are suited to be successful.

To be successful in an online course, you should...

  • Be self-motivated and self-disciplined.   
  • Be committed to the course. Online courses are at least as time-consuming as face-to-face courses.
  • Expect to log on daily for updates, messages and communication among participants.
  • Accept the fact that, if you are a procrastinator, this course might not be for you. Have a private space where you can work for at least 30 minutes at a time.
  • Anticipate being at the computer for extended amounts of time.
  • Speak up immediately if you are having technical difficulties or are having problems understanding.
  • Be ready to participate in classroom discussions, and realize that this involves typing.
  • Be able to CAREFULLY follow written directions and pay attention to detail. Reading is a critical skill in online learning.

If you are feeling unsure about any of this, you need to talk to Mr. Wenzel or Mrs. Cummings right away.  For some students, this style of learning does not work well.  It is very important to clearly consider whether remote learning will really work for you.

Attention to Details - Your teacher will have dozens of students online.  In order for the teacher to stay organized, she or he is likely to have strict rules about what you do - particularly in terms of how and where to hand in assignments, assignment names, file names, and subject headings in emails.  It is crucial that you understand the class  organization system and comply with it.  It is likely that you will not get credit for work done if you don't follow the teacher's conventions.

Instructors are not necessarily very patient about this - their workload is too heavy to fool around with students who will not take the time to follow instructions.

Every course will have different rules about turning work in late.  Be sure you know what the course policy is.

COURSE CALENDAR - The course calendar is the tool you use to make sure you are keeping up with your work and meeting deadlines.

  • PRINT YOURSELF A COPY.
  • CHECK the end of the semester date.  IF IT IS LATER than our semester ends, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to make arrangements with the course instructor.

Important Tips

  • Begin slowly and really learn your way around - Take time to explore and do it very carefully.  One of the reasons that virtual classes are difficult is that it is hard to get oriented in the course.  Your "virtual classroom" is a big place with many different areas where information is stored and activities are carried out.  You will do yourself a favor if, initially, you take your time to learn your way around.  Go to every place in the virtual environment and look carefully at what's there.  If there is an orientation assignment, do it carefully.  It wouldn't be a bad idea to take some notes about where things are kept - the calendar, the syllabus, lectures, assignments, reading materials, recommended web resources, grades, mail, etc.  Often, you will recall that you've seen something in your course but you can't find your way back to it and it can be very frustrating.
  • File Names - Do NOT use spaces in your file names - WHY:  In the past, computers absolutely could not handle spaces in filenames.  There are some systems that still have problems with this.  One good example is UNIX which is generally used on many Internet servers.  In your MVHS course, you will be sharing files with many different types of computers.  To save yourself, and others, a lot of headaches, AVOID POTENTIAL PROBLEMS in the first place. Do NOT use spaces in your file names.  This is actually a tip that will serve you well throughout your future computing life, regardless of your MVHS course.  I recommend that you develop this as a lifelong habit.  One easy way to name your files is to use an underscore instead of a space.
  • It is always a good computing practice (for the rest of your life) to make it a habit to save electronic files in more than one place.
  • Most teachers are very good about working with you if you are having particular problems or anticipate a problem or have scheduling conflicts. The key is good communication AND communication that is proactive rather than reactive.  Anticipate your problems and conflicts and bring them up with your teacher BEFORE they happen, if at all possible.  Teachers are much more willing to work with you if they feel you are paying attention and thinking ahead.
  • VERY important - protect yourself by sending yourself a copy of all communication with your teachers.  If you ever run into a bureaucratic problem or a dispute, you will have documentation regarding what steps you took to deflect or resolve an issue.  Additionally, if there is any communication of particular importance, send a copy to Mrs. Killinger as well.  This will provide another layer to support you in terms of documentation and it will keep her apprised of any situations in case you need her help.
  • Teachers make mistake and technology is not always reliable - Monitor your own work and progress carefully and double-check that you get credit for all your work.  Never, ever assume that the teacher knows what he/she is doing Have a back-up plan in case the technology fails.
  • You should
  • ALWAYS double-check what is going on with your grades
  • ALWAYS document all communications
  • ALWAYS have multiple electronic copies of your work stored in different places
  • ALWAYS hang on to any written work
  • ALWAYS use PRINT to make a hard copy of your test and answers to avoid having to retake an exam, BEFORE you hit the test Submit button since it is not uncommon for technical problems to happen during tests and/or quizzes!

IN THE WORDS OF FORMER STUDENTS

  • Do not hesitate or wait to email your instructor if you are confused or something goes wrong.
  • Both teachers and technology make mistakes.  Monitor your grades and email your instructor immediately if something doesn't look right.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to hand in assignments; you must allow adequate time for technical difficulties.
  • Language students need to know that there is a lot of important information covered in ungraded assignments.  Just because you don't get a grade, don't skip the assignment.  This information shows up in quizzes and tests.

What You Need to Know About Taking Courses Online Part Two

What You Need to Know About Taking Courses Online - PART TWO

What Former Michigan Virtual High School Students Have to Say about Virtual Instruction

  • Study your materials, otherwise the course will be more than difficult. You need to be self-motivated because, before long, you will be very far behind and it's not easy to catch up. Even though there are not a lot of assignments, there is a lot of ungraded work that needs to be covered. Don't think you can wait until Friday, turn in all assignments for that lesson and get a good grade.
  • The class is harder than I expected. I thought it would be easier working at my own pace but it doesn't help that much.
  • I have gained many things but the biggest is the ability to self-motivate and stay on-task. When I started, I hadn't yet realized how important this was. When I started, it was rough and hard to do this, and I missed a few assignments, which hurt my grade quite a bit. But since then, I have stayed on-task and have slowly brought my grade up by hard work and consistency.
  • The warning that self-motivation was important and how you will not have a teacher to be pushing you was very important. I only I realized this in the beginning.
  • I would tell students that they need to stay on task and only rest and take breaks when everything is done to date. You cannot sit around and say I'll do it tomorrow because sometimes tomorrow is really crazy or the Internet doesn't work or you'll have other work to do.
  • Time management has been really tough for me and I'm working hard to improve it.
  • The teachers are there to help you. You shouldn't be scared to email them with concerns or questions. If you have trouble getting an assignment done on time, let your teacher know.
  • I see that saving your work is a very important thing to remember when using any kind of technology. Teachers can make mistakes.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions when you are confused or lost. The biggest mistake I made was not asking a question when I didn't know what I was supposed to do.
  • In this class, I have learned to be self-sufficient. There isn't a classmate or teacher who can be there to help you on command.
  • Make sure that you get to know your teacher and the way that they like things done. If your teacher asks you to turn in an assignment a certain way and you don't, you may not get credit for completing it whether you did the work or not.
  • It is very important to make sure that you understand the grade that you got. I received a grade that seemed wrong and when I told my teacher, I was right. The computer was messed up and she fixed my score.
  • Make sure you can handle not having a physical, in-front-of-you teacher. A lot of people think, "Wow, no teacher; I can slack off." That is definitely not true. Don't be distracted by your access to the Internet. If you get behind, it is hard to make up the lost time.
  • My teachers aren't here to tell me when things are due. My teachers aren't here to push me. This has been a problem for me. I have fallen really far behind and I really need to catch up. I didn't take it seriously enough and now I am paying for it dearly.
  • It was challenging at first to be able to find what my assignments were and then I had no teacher to ask for help right away. I wasn't expecting at first to have so much trouble finding my way around, but once I got used to it, I was fine.
  • Do not be afraid to email your teacher. I was a little scared to email him with my concerns because I thought I was bothering him and he was too busy to answer me. The teacher was more than happy to explain things to me and was very understanding.
  • I think the a major point is to not think it's easy, because it really isn't that easy to come in not having a teacher telling you what you should be doing and having to do it on your own.
  • I suggest that for students planning on taking an online course to make sure they meet the deadlines; if you wait until the last minute to finish your work, you are going to fail your course. PUSH YOURSELF to get everything done on time. Nobody's going to be breathing down your neck to get stuff done; it's all up to you.
  • The most important tip that I found in About Taking Courses Online was to check grades, because there was a mess up on one of my quizzes that needed to be changed. Technology does make mistakes, so I have learned to review all of my homework and quizzes. I don't believe that any of the tips are unimportant, because all of them have helped me one way or another in taking this course.
  • The points that should be emphasized include: paying attention to details, always keep a copy of your work, don't fall behind and manage your time wisely. A point that should be added is to allow time for problems to occur, because they will. At least once or twice you will encounter a technical problem and allowing time between your assignment being turned in and the deadline is crucial.
  • You need to be able to read instructions and sort of teach yourself.
  • The one thing I wished was stressed more is exploring the website so you know where everything is and used for.
  • After I just started reading all the instructions and realized that everything fits together and you just have to make sure you read EVERYTHING.
  • I have gained much more than I expected. I only expected to learn astronomy facts from a book; nothing about independence, communication, and being flexible with my schedule. I feel I will use these parts of my learning more often in the "real world.  Watch out mainly for the technical problems that they may face.  The only way to prevent the headaches of being on time and properly sent and saved material, is to do your assignments right when you find out about them.
  • I really think that everyone should take an online class before they graduate because it gives them a good idea of what college will be like.  It was an eye-opener for me and has helped change my perspective on school.
  • I will stress the importance of keeping in contact with your instructor.  He or she is there to help you and it is important sometimes to verify that you turned in an assignment or to pick up extra credit.
  • Watch out for technical problems so try to always stay about 2 days ahead of the due date.
  • The fact that not falling behind is such a huge aspect should be emphasized.  When you fall behind on the online work, you really fall apart in everything else, causing the rest of the class to be a bit stressful.
  • The warnings on how you should have a backup copy and all the precautions to what could happen to your work is very true, and should also be emphasized in big, bold letters. 
  • Take your time to read everything is a really good piece of advice.  Sometimes if you don't read everything, you'll only complete half the assignment or do it completely wrong. 
  • Making a list of your week's projects or assignments helps. 
  • It helps if you talk to your instructors quite often and get to know them.  This way if you have any problems they will be much more understanding, plus some instructors like conversing with their students.  You can even get extra credit if you're really good : )
  • The teacher wants you to do well, so you should speak up immediately.  Don't be afraid to tell your teacher that you are having a problem with some part of the course; they are always willing to help if they can.  You should pay attention to deadlines and do not procrastinate.
  • I appreciated the constant reminder to SAVE SAVE SAVE to be important because I have a tendency to count on the fact that everything will be fine with my assignments, even though that isn't always the case.

Take advantage of the help that Mrs. Killinger & Mrs. Salyer and your teacher can provide.  Your teacher will want to help you and will try to help you.  Make sure you explain your class situations to her whenever you have a problem.