SophieConnects a network of students

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Through the Internet, SophieConnect brings together Sacred Heart students from across the country. Pau Barbosa '18

SophieConnect provides Convent of the Sacred Heart students with more than just an Internet connection. The program brings students together from across the country through its unique courses and format. The SophieConnect online academic course program is open to students from 13 Sacred Heart schools across the United States and Canada.

At the beginning of this school year, co-Director of SophieConnect, Upper School Director of Campus Ministry, Community Service and Summer Enrichment, Mrs. Lori Wilson and Upper School Computer Teacher, Director of Educational Technology and co-Director of SophieConnect, Mr. Karl Haeseler launched the website.

Mrs. Wilson and Mr. Haeseler were inspired to start the program during their trips to the Sacred Heart sister school in Uganda. They noticed how impactful technology was in connecting the students in Uganda to each other and to the world, despite their isolation. Although the resources in Uganda would not be sufficient to support an online course program there, they believed they could apply the benefits of online learning to the Sacred Heart network in North America.

 Through the Internet, SophieConnect brings together Sacred Heart students from across the country. Pau Barbosa '18
Through the Internet, SophieConnect brings together Sacred Heart students from across the country.
Pau Barbosa ’18

The program offers five AP courses, one college prep course and one course for teachers throughout the year. These courses include AP Art History, AP Music Theory, 2 class sections of AP Psychology, AP Microeconomics, Creating the Digital World, which is an AP Computer Science course, and college prep Marine BiologyTeachers also have the opportunity to take a course called SophieCertification.

The Goals and Criteria of the schools of the Sacred Heart are the core of the online program. This, along with an innovative platform, allows SophieConnect to revolutionize connections between students in the Sacred Heart network.

The tuition for the program is $500 per course to ensure that students can take part in this opportunity.  

“We wanted online classes to be something that every student in the network could take advantage of,” Mrs. Wilson said.
In addition, SophieConnect can be a possibility for very busy students because of its format. Students do not have to be limited by their schedules or overwhelmed by work because SophieConnect courses assign work early in advance and adopt flexible discussion boards. Students in SophieConnect contribute to online discussion boards on their own time. When contributing to SophieConnect’s discussion boards, students learn from each other and build on the ideas of their peers just as they would in a class discussion.

Junior Adam Bobbs, who attends Berchmans Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, is taking AP Psychology and AP Microeconomics on SophieConnect. He particularly enjoys participating in SophieConnect discussion boards and listening to what his peers have to say.

“It is really cool because you get to see the points of view of other students from different schools, from all different areas. Plus, it gives the classes more of a traditional classroom feel because you get to know and understand your fellow classmates,” Adam said.

 SophieConnect’s flexible discussion setup allows every student to participate, stimulating dynamic conversations that enhance the community within the Sacred Heart network. In addition, the content of the discussions “builds community and incorporates things that are true in our Sacred Heart environments universally,” Mr. Haeseler said.

SophieConnect classes require students to complete more structured assignments. Convent of the Sacred Heart senior Ana Schonander, who takes AP Psychology on SophieConnnect, recognizes that the course she takes has made time management an essential skill for her.

It has enabled me to become more independent because it is up to me when and how I complete my assignments, whether it is on time, early and well done, or done sloppily at the last minute,” Ana said.

Adam likes that his SophieConnect courses assign work well in advance. Being able to do his schoolwork independently and anywhere is also an advantage for him.

“I really like it because it allows me to finish work early and be fully prepared for the workload I have in the coming weeks, so if I will be missing school or busy with other things I can plan accordingly,” Adam said.

Adam’s favorite part about his SophieConnect classes is having advanced notice for assignments. It helps him stay prepared and less stressed, and can be an academic advantage as well.

“What I like most about my SophieConnect classes is being able to know the work assigned and complete it on my own. I know what work will be due so I can work ahead, and use the rest of my time to prepare for the test,” Adam said.

Due to the success of SophieConnect, Mrs. Wilson and Mr. Haeseler are planning to extend the online platform to Sacred Heart schools in Europe next year. 

Adam encourages students who are interested in online classes or simply a new learning experience to try SophieConnect.

“If you are a student with the opportunity to take a SophieConnect course, or any online course for that matter, at least consider it, because it is a fulfilling and beneficial experience,” Adam said.

– Emily Coster, Staff Writer