Loy Norrix teachers are using GradPoint as an online learning tool 

English+and+social+studies+teacher%2C+Jennifer+Aniano%2C+working+at+her+desk+from+home.+

Credit: Jennifer Aniano

English and social studies teacher, Jennifer Aniano, working at her desk from home.

Milo Turner, Instagram Editor

KPS students have been learning online for two trimesters now and the Board of Education has recently announced that they plan to continue virtual learning for trimester 3. Some students, however, have been utilizing another program to distance learn. 

GradPoint is a part of the KPS learning plan 2A, and aims to be used as a more flexible and personalized online learning alternative for kindergarten through twelfth grade students according to Pearson, the online learning organization that created the program, which debuted in 2016. GradPoint offers a wide variety of both electives and required courses for students to earn credit through. 

Loy Norrix English and social studies teacher Jennifer Aniano uses the program to manage courses. 

I teach about 15 different courses spread through the 4 class periods,” said Aniano. “This works out to roughly 35 sections.” 

Each section is a segment of a course or a smaller course, similar to the way KPS divides larger courses into sections by trimester. 

GradPoint differs greatly from the style of online learning that has been employed at Loy Norrix and other KPS high schools. 

Aniano explained, “I do not make the lesson plans or the content. Those are given to the students. So I have to learn each of the courses and all of the content to assist students all day. The required courses are a series of units that have section quizzes and a unit test, and there is an exam at the end.”

In addition, students are not required to have daily meetings with teachers and other GradPoint students, unlike the daily class meeting schedule that Loy Norrix students are assigned who are in the option 1 program. Instead, students have the option of completing the work for the course on their own time and bringing questions or concerns to their teachers via email. 

Senior, Shelby Richardson, has taken Finance, English, and Personal Fitness courses through gradpoint, and said that the weekly schedule in terms of course work can be ¨inconsistent¨. 

¨I can get like a whole week’s worth done in one day and then lose all motivation and ignore my classes for a whole week,¨ said Richardson. 

Aniano expressed that a positive of this learning structure is that teachers can stay in constant contact with students as well as student families and that students can work one-on-one with their instructors. 

The program does have room for improvement, however. 

Aniano described the role of a GradPoint teacher as “more of a program administrator and content tutor than a classroom instructor,” and indicated that the program had been difficult to navigate at times. 

“As a tech savvy educator, I can honestly say that the GradPoint interface is archaic and presents numerous problems for both students and staff. I can imagine that there are far superior programs in this world when we are discussing user friendly capabilities,” Aniano said.

Richardson expressed issues with navigating the program, saying, ¨I’ve run into a couple technical issues where pages won’t load or a teacher formatted the class a bit weird, like they pasted links to websites that are broken or shutdown. Which can be really inconvenient because for the most part I’m doing all of my class work at 2 am and I couldn’t really email them at 2 am could I?”

According to GradPoint Site, common technical issues include difficulties logging in, blank screens appearing in place of the action that was requested, and an inability to move forward in an assessment or activity, but the site does try to provide instructions as to how students should deal with these difficulties. 

Despite possible bugs in the program, GradPoint has been recommended by Western Slope as a learning option for students whose mental health is negatively affected by the stress of alternative programs or programs provided by their own public districts, and also offers means of earning additional credits for students who do attend public schools.