Alternative Class Formats and Technologies

Compass classes have historically been offered as experiential, in-person classes. In response to changing conditions and the increased demand for flexible scheduling and online classes, starting in the Fall of 2020, Compass is offering some classes in alternative class formats and incorporating new technologies for distance learning. Read below for what some of the these options entail:

CLASS FORMATS

ONLINE ONLY: Online classes are offered as synchronous (real time) instruction in an online, virtual classroom*. Online classes are planned and scheduled at specific days and times to remain online throughout the semester or year. Some classes may use recordings for missed classes, while others may not offer recordings.

ONLINE/TRANSITION: In response to the COVID situation of 2020, several classes will begin as synchronous, online instruction in a virtual classroom for Semester 1 (Quarters 1, 2). At the teacher’s option, the class may transition and return to in-person instruction for Semester 2 (Quarters 3, 4) as COVID-19 scenarios improve. Return to in-person would not take place mid-semester, disrupting those who were counting on virtual instruction.

HYBRID: A hybrid class is taught in a blended format with some class meetings in person and some class meetings taught as synchronous instruction in an online classroom. Read each hybrid class description to see which day(s) of the week are taught using which method.

TECHNOLOGIES

VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS*: Virtual classrooms are web-based collaboration platforms for online instruction which enable teachers to appear in real-time on the laptop, tablet, or phone screen of their students. Many systems are available with features that allow students to speak aloud (or not), appear on camera (or not), and chat via typing with the instructor and/or other students. Some platforms incorporate an online whiteboard, breakout rooms, screen sharing, and media sharing. Each instructor will establish virtual classroom rules and expectations for students. In the spring of 2020, Compass instructors used Google Meet and Zoom, however, Compass will be continually re-evaluating the features, reliability, interface, and presenter and user experiences of various virtual classroom platforms for future online learning.

CLASSROOM (or LEARNING) MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: Classroom, or Learning, Management Systems (LMS) are web-based portals which consolidate and organize teaching and learning tools online. Example LMS used in education are Canvas, Blackboard, Google Classroom, and Edmodo, with Canvas being the system most commonly used by instructors of Compass high school classes. A LMS can be used as a central depository for a class syllabus, weekly assignments, handouts, uploaded articles/maps, and links to videos. It can also be a portal for students to message instructors, post assignments, and take quizzes. Instructors have the flexibility to select which features will be used in their LMS, and no two classes will be organized identically, although Compass instructors do share ‘best practices.’ Students will need individual e-mail accounts in order to be set up as users in an LMS. Parents of students will also be given access to their child’s LMS account where they can review course content, monitor workload, observe grades earned, and track the details necessary to prepare homeschool transcripts/documentation. Class descriptions will identify if a class will use a LMS, and enrolled students will be required to sign up, as assignments, grades, etc., will not be concurrently provided on paper. LMS may be used by in-person, hybrid, or online classes.

LIVE STREAM IN-PERSON CLASS At this time, Compass has elected not to live-stream classes that are held in-person at our Herndon location. This decision is out of concern for overall class quality and transmission challenges such as video quality, sound quality, internet connectivity, and equipment reliability. In addition, having a live stream of an in-person class may create privacy challenges for some students who attend the class in person.