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SparkNotes, Conjuguemos and Khan Academy; for some high school students these websites are becoming the new notecards, tutors and chalkboards.
The internet has recently become a study source for students at East and all over the country. Websites offering free help in subjects from Chemistry to U.S. History are popping up all over the internet. Tech-savvy students are becoming more accustomed to studying for tests and quizzes online.
Of 115 East students surveyed, 27 percent stated that they had experience with an online education/tutoring website. Although this number may seem insignificant, but it can mean big improvements for some students and their grades.
“I feel like all my grades have steadily increased since I started using online study resources,” sophomore Reese Goulding said.
He likes to use these sites because it gives him a different interpretation of the material in his classes. Sophomore Garrett Bloom started using online study resources in middle school
and recently has used more web-based materials for studying.
“The amount of information [on the internet] has gone up and there are a lot of benefits to using the internet [to study],” Bloom said.
There was a poll released last year by National Lone Star Report on Aligning Technology with Student Success, in which 6,000 students on 36 different campuses were surveyed. In the poll, 77 percent said that their grades improved after using internet-based coursework and online classrooms.
These websites include online quizzes, instructional videos and interactive diagrams. Science, math, English, and history are all on the web available for a student.
Bloom uses a website called Quizlet to study flashcards. The website has online flashcard sets already made. Bloom said he likes that the information on the internet is visual and easy to use.
“It saves me time so that I can study the cards instead of having to make them,” Bloom said.
He said that this year his English teacher suggested that the students use websites like Sparknotes and No Fear Shakespeare. Both websites help put the language of Shakespeare’s plays and poems into a more understandable wording.
“I think if teachers know that it is a reliable source they will have no problem with me using it,” Bloom said.
He has used Sparknotes since middle school, but started using websites for help in math and history this year. Goulding uses a site called Wolfram Alpha to help with math
“You can type in any problem or equation and will give you every possible answer, even parabolas and graphs,” Goulding said.
Associate principal Jeremy Higgins admits that the internet opens up many study opportunities to the student. However, he cautions students to use the internet for help only when absolutely necessary.
“I think that obviously any method that kids can use to help themselves is advantageous,” Higgins said. “[But] if a student is struggling, they should always go see their teacher [first].”
While Higgins also pointed out that East provides other opportunities like National Honor Society tutoring after school to help struggling students, he admits that online resources can be helpful in certain cases.
“But if a kid is sitting at home at 10 p.m. and doesn’t know how to work a problem, where else can they go?” Higgins said. “Well there’s plenty of resources online.”
Kara Disberger is a student teacher for first semester and is gaining experience with the Spanish II classes at East. She is finishing up school and says that her education professors really want their students to use technology in their classrooms.
“For my portfolio that I’m doing for student teaching, one of the requirements is not only am I using technology but I’m having you guys as students use technology,” Disberger said.
Higgins agrees with implementing more technology into the classroom but wants the teachers to be completely comfortable with it first.
“If [the teachers] have been out exploring different websites and they come across things that they believe are beneficial to their students, then yes, absolutely, I’m all for get[ting] that information out there because students want to know that,” Higgins said.
Science teacher Jennifer Davis has begun incorporating online-based activities into her classroom. She set up an account with KhanAcademy.org, a website that offers free tutorial videos for various subjects. The not-for-profit website contains 208,008,679 lessons, and stresses that they want to provide good education to everyone.
“Khan Academy often helps me better understand [the curriculum] leading to better grades on tests,” said sophomore Mackenzie Hanna.
Davis says she tries to play the videos for her class but they don’t always work. For the most part she stresses the use of her classes’ online textbook because it offers great online quizzes and tools to prepare for tests.
Davis said that although the textbook and internet can help students study, there are certain things within the classroom that trump online studying.
“The teacher can present the information in different ways and explain things if students aren’t understanding,” Davis said. “Teachers can stop, go back and choose a different path to get the information across. The internet cannot do that.”
Freshman Jack Tyler is in Davis’ Biology class and said that he likes the variation between notes and videos.
“Kids like videos a lot more than just taking notes so everyone pays more attention in class,” Tyler said.
Associate principal John McKinney thinks that although more opportunities are arising for students to get help from the internet, it should never supplement teaching in a classroom.
“The best website or learning program in the world will never replace live, direct instruction from an informed, engaging instructor,“ Mckinney said.