Owatonna Online becomes a big success


Designed by Kennedy Wilker

The newest form of learning in Owatonna is Owatonna Online

Kennedy Wilker, Writer

After 18 months of online learning last year, many students have found virtual learning to be a success. To fill the learning needs, a new online school has been created by Owatonna Public Schools. Owatonna Online is a free all distanced learning school system for all Minnesota students K-12 who live in Owatonna and are under 21.

The distance learning model that was used in the last 18 months, is very similar to Owatonna Online. The independent and flexible learning style is close to the same google meet and zoom style contacts, but primarily corresponding with email. Students can come in for help or with questions during office hours to meet in person as well. Online teacher Ms. Betsy Cole said, “Online learning allows students to work at their own pace with diverse classes, making it very individualized and self-sufficient.” Students are fully connected to the staff and have access to help whenever they need.

Owatonna Online provides all resources for students to reach their full potential. Kindergarteners and first graders are given an iPad and second graders through seniors are given a chromebook. Students will have access to support services like social workers, counselors, language helpers and special education teachers to meet all student’s needs. Ms. Cole said, “Full time distance learning is a new option for students who realized over the past year and a half that online distance learning was a place that they thrived in and wanted the option to keep going forward.” Students are fully provided with the materials they need to help them reach their full potential.

All virtual learning provides students with more opportunities to work at their own pace wherever they may. Senior Tanner Stendel said, “Going online has given me more time and freedom to do school whenever and have time to play Hockey.” Most students that chose to be fully online chose this way of learning, to have more opportunities. Stendel said, “It is harder to stay on task and contact teachers, but the schedule is easier.” Online learning also gives an alternative opportunity to students who didn’t like the traditional schooling method or it didn’t work for them. 

Going online has given me more time and freedom to do school whenever and have time to play Hockey.

— Tanner Stendel

The enrollment is a quick and easy process by just filling out a list of simple questions. The open enrollment allows for any student to attend a school or program outside of their hometown. Assistant Principal Mr. Philip Wiken said, “Students enrolled, take their core classes and choose from a variety of courses and electives to fill a traditional four-period schedule towards graduation.” Owatonna Online works alongside the staff and students to design a program that is flexible for every student’s learning. Online learning adapts to the individual student to allow for independent work as in person school would.

Approximately 150 students are currently enrolled. Owatonna Online staffs four elementary teachers and 17 middle school to high school teachers. Each class size varies depending on the course. Enrollment is currently closed, but it will reopen prior to second semester for high school aged students. Students also have the option to be put on a waitlist in case any spots or opportunities open up. 

Online learning is becoming more common in society, especially after COVID-19. At-home learning is something that will be expanded in the future, with more classes and opportunities that are not currently available. The future is still unknown, but with flexible school methods, more students will have access to school and have the time and opportunities to graduate with high success rates.