Students Enjoying One Schoolhouse

Photo+illustration+by+Edan+Zinn+%2723.

Photo illustration by Edan Zinn ’23.

Nico Jaffer

Eight Upper School students are well underway with courses offered by One Schoolhouse (OSH), an online educational organization which the School partnered with last spring. 

According to Upper School Head Joshua Neudel, the School partnered with OSH to offer courses with lower enrollment, allowing students continued access to curriculum. As an aded bonus, Neudel said, OSH was developed by current and former independent school teachers.

“For us, this meant that [OSH] understood what families would be looking for when taking classes, and the expectations that needed to be met,” Neudel said.

OSH enrolls students from independent schools around the nation, who take courses from qualified instructors. While not all classes meet live, the work is paced with students working through learning modules by a certain date.

“I think, just like with the classroom environment, the online learning environment can be manipulated to best suit the populations that you’re trying to serve. With our environment, we’ve very much focused on the pedagogy behind the online learning space for us,” said OSH Head of School Brad Rathgeber. “That really focuses on connection, collaboration, creativity, and application.” 

Dean of Students Paul Murray, who creates individualized academic schedule, slated time for students enrolled in OSH classes. 

“We enrolled kids into placeholder sections so that the students could have scheduled time during the school day to work on their OneSchoolhouse assignments,” Murray said. “It also gives the School a place to record grades for the students so that their Brimmer transcripts will reflect they took the course”.

Betty Wang ‘21, who is enrolled in a OSH engineering course, has enjoyed the experience thus far. 

“I think it’s a very interesting way to complete a course for high school,” Wang said. “I had a lot of fun doing various activities, and the online format of that class did not limit any of my study.” 

Brian Gamble ‘23 is taking AP Physics I through One Schoolhouse.

“The work is challenging, but that is to be expected from a college level course,” Gamble said. “I think that the way OneSchoolhouse manages to present this workload to use is very digestible and there is never a time where you feel completely lost without somebody helping you.”

Humanities teacher David Cutler, who taught an American history survey course for OSH over the summer, is using what he learned about distance and hybrid course design to improve the flexibility and adaptability of his American History and Government offerings. Since Brimmer and OSH use Canvas, a popular online learning management system, Cutler felt extra prepared to redesign his classes—especially with the pandemic in mind.

For Back-to-School Night in early September, Cutler shared a video he made (included below), providing an overview of his American History class.

“I learned so much from my OSH mentors about how to successfully engage students online, while also encouraging them to take more ownership of the learning,” Cutler said. “Especially with all of the uncertainty of the pandemic, as well as students learning concurrently and abroad, I knew that this year would be different. I wanted to leverage Canvas to the best of my ability, and I couldn’t have received better training than from OSH. Teaching for OSH this summer was a life-changing experience.”

Cutler also explained how OSH utilizes “learning pathways,” which provide students various means to engage with the same material—whether by video, presentations, lectures, podcasts, or selected readings. It takes a long time to aggregate sources, Cutler said, adding that the effort proves worthwhile when he sees students become more self-directed.

“The pandemic has really fast-tracked the changing nature of education,” Cutler said. “More and more, I see myself as a guide-by-the-side rather than a sage-on-the stage.”

Over the summer, teachers also participated in a hybrid teaching course offered by OSH.