District adding online classes

Another local school plans to offer online courses, so students can take classes that aren’t typically offered or they don’t have room for in their schedule.

But Indian Creek High School’s program will differ from others because local teachers will build the curriculum for the courses, such as finite mathematics and marine biology.

Online classes are becoming the norm for local school districts, including Franklin’s GrizLab credit recovery program, Center Grove’s Global Campus and Greenwood’s Indiana Online Academy program. Now, six Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson teachers are taking a year to put together their own online program by creating the curriculum from scratch.

“We want to build this with excellence and build it really well,” NHJ Empower coordinator Kate Schatz said.

The difference with Indian Creek’s program is that the school will create its own classes and curriculum. Other school districts, such as Greenwood, use other programs to create their courses. For example, Greenwood schools use Indiana Online Academy. Currently, teachers and administrators have not had the time to focus on establishing their own program, Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said. But having local high school teachers create and teach the online classes would be a long-term goal, he said.

Center Grove’s Global Campus, which offers 44 classes year-round, also has teachers creating their own courses and modifying existing programs by adding videos, audio files and homework that is made by them.

By creating their own curriculum, Indian Creek can save money and customize the classes to their requirements, Schatz said.

Five out of the six online classes are already offered at Indian Creek High School, including a higher-level math course, housing and interior design, and Advanced Placement literature and composition. Having the classes available online will allow students more opportunities to take the classes they want or need, Schatz said.

“We want to empower the students to have some control with their own education and extending it beyond the classroom,” Schatz said.

The new program also will expose students to online learning, which will be what students will need to use at a technical school or four-year college after graduation, Schatz said.

Teachers will still offer two sections of their classes during the day and be in charge of one online course. Depending on the success of the online classes, more sections might be offered online instead of at the high school, Schatz said. Administrators expect about 25 students on average to be in each online and traditional high school course, she said.

School officials decided to offer online courses in response to students who might not have room in their schedule for the classes they want during the school day. For example, if a student is in band, which meets during only one class period and that’s also the same time one of the elective classes, that student now can take the class online, she said.

One course, an agricultural business management class, is offered at the high school only every other year. For the years when it isn’t offered, students can take the class through the online program, Schatz said. Students who want to take a class other than Biology 2 will be able to take marine biology, which will be offered only online, Schatz said.

Teachers had to apply to participate in the program to create online courses, Schatz said. Sixteen teachers wanted to participate in the first year, but the high school had to whittle that number down to six, she said. Each teacher will have one class period free during the school day to focus solely on the online class, and students can stop in for questions during that time, she said.

The six teachers chosen are designing every aspect of the courses during the next year, including homework assignments for students, quizzes and writing the curriculum.

At a glance

Six Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson teachers are creating their own online program this year, which will be available for students in the 2016-2017 school year.

Here are the classes that will be offered:

  • Finite mathematics
  • Housing and interior design
  • Marine biology
  • Agricultural business management
  • Advanced Placement literature and composition
  • Advanced Placement psychology