SophieConnect advances St. Madeleine Sophie Barat's legacy

SophieConnect advances St. Madeleine Sophie Barat's legacy

 

sophieconnect logo
SophieConnect Logo created by alumna Abigail Smith. Courtesy of Mrs. Lori Wilson

The Convent of the Sacred Heart network will adopt a new, collaborative online curriculum-based program, SophieConnect, starting Fall 2015. This new system will offer online courses to all students of the Sacred Heart network.
Currently, many Sacred Heart students are enrolled in online courses through the Online School for Girls. In the upcoming school year, however, Sacred Heart is preparing to also provide courses through the SophieConnect program.
The classes that SophieConnect will offer include Sacred Heart History Around the World, Principles of Journalism, Chinese Culture and Language, AP Art History, AP Computer Science, AP Psychology, World Religions, Ecology, Latin I, and Creating Tomorrow – Designing for the Digital World. The program also has two half-semester courses in Marine Biology and Global Environmental Studies.
While SophieConnect provides courses in Journalism, AP Art History, AP Psychology, and languages such as Latin and Chinese, there will also be similar courses offered in Sacred Heart’s on-campus curriculum. However, students will not have the option to take courses online if they are already offered at school.
Sacred Heart Director of Campus Ministry, Upper School Community Service and Summer Enrichment, Mrs. Lori Wilson, and Director of Educational Technology and Upper School Computer Teacher Mr. Karl Haeseler are codirectors of the SophieConnect program. Mr. Haeseler created this collaborative online program in the spring of 2014 as part of a sabbatical proposal.
The core objectives of this new online curriculum are to expand opportunities for students to pursue online educational experiences, to foster success in higher education, and to ensure that the Goals and Criteria of the Sacred Heart educational philosophy are met through its offerings.
“The SophieConnect program can benefit the CSH community in so many ways,” junior Erin Schick said. “It allows for a broadening in the school’s curriculum and helps students explore their future academic options.”
Erin has signed up to take the Creating Tomorrow-Designing for the Digital World course next fall through the Online School for Girls. In this course, students will develop their digital communication, programming, and entrepreneurship skills by using the design process to create products relevant to the digital age. 
SophieConnect teachers and administrators strive to inspire close collaboration between students of Sacred Heart network schools, despite geographic distances. The SophieConnect staff also hopes to strengthen the connection between network schools through promoting shared cultural and philosophical values. 
Currently, Sacred Heart Greenwich students participate in online courses including AP Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, Multivariable Calculus and Differential Equations, and AP Statistics through the Online School for Girls. The difference between the Online School for Girls and SophieConnect is that the latter allows only Sacred Heart partner schools to participate and collaborate over the Internet. This new partnership between schools is meant to strengthen bonds between students and enable them to access new learning platforms. Each school’s faculty members will also play larger roles in regulating the online courses once SophieConnect launches. 
Thirteen Sacred Heart network schools have committed to participate in and register students for the SophieConnect program. 
“Online classes are quickly becoming a viable alternative to traditional settings,” Mr. Haeseler said. “We are excited to see how students from different geographic locations bring their perspective to the online learning environment.”
Current online courses offered at Sacred Heart expect students to manage their time wisely in order to meet deadlines, and learn how to communicate effectively with their teachers over email. The students who participate in SophieConnect must also develop these skills, while also striving to learn in a more independent and singular style.
“We believe students are ready and willing to learn outside of regular school hours, which mirrors today’s modes of communication shaped by the various technologies that have become a staple in our daily routines,” Mrs. Wilson said.
Sacred Heart students, faculty, and administration are hopeful that the SophieConnect program will have a successful launch in August 2015.
“Online classes are unique because it is a growing experience for any student since they are able to learn independence and a new skill that they didn’t know before, much like college,” Erin said. “I am very excited for this program next year because it allows me to continue with a subject that I am very passionate about and continue to learn in a fun way.”
-Brooke Wilkens, Staff Writer

Correction: April, 20, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated that students could choose between taking courses offered both by SophieConnect and Sacred Heart’s on-campus curriculum. However, students will not have the option to take a course already offered at school online. The earlier version also misstated that the Creating Tomorrow-Designing for the Digital World course will be offered by SophieConnect. However, this course is offered through the Online School for Girls, not SophieConnect.