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Exploring virtual classrooms

Photo provided by Neonbrand

In Loudoun County, students have the opportunity to take a variety of advanced courses that are not offered in other school districts, often due to a lack of funding and teaching resources. However, some students may be surprised to know that Freedom is actually one of the only schools in the county that hosts a Multivariable Calculus class.

Most advanced students who take AP BC Calculus during their junior year at Freedom opt to complete Multivariable Calculus over the course of their last year; however, this isn’t an option for many other Loudoun County students in the same position. As a result, the Freedom administration came up with an innovative solution: a virtual classroom.

Instead of leaving students without the opportunity to take higher level math, Freedom hosts several different Loudoun County schools on a video call so other students can join the Multivariable Calculus classes. Students at other schools have the opportunity to interact with other Loudoun County students while also being able to receive quality instruction. All the notes and assignments for the class are on Microsoft OneNote, allowing students from other schools to access the same amount of notes and assignments as Freedom students do. This paperless initiative, combined with math teacher Carl Giesy’s unique style of teaching, created an immersive and efficient virtual environment for online students.

“The virtual classroom experience was truly rewarding as it provided me the opportunity to take a class that I would have never been able to at my base school,” said Divjot Bawa, a Rock Ridge High School senior. “The heavy emphasis placed by our teacher on project-based learning created an investigation-oriented environment where I felt motivated.”

As Loudoun County continues to experiment with new technology, Freedom’s success in implementing a virtual Multivariable Calculus course should encourage schools to offer cross-enrollment in order to provide students with a greater variety of course options.

“Although one could cite certain drawbacks [about online classrooms], the virtual format outweighs these concerns allowing students to be independent and take initiative of their learning, create a unique balance of structure and autonomy, as well as participate in learning opportunities that may have never been afforded due to a student’s location,” Bawa said.

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