How Online Clubs Help Students Connect with Their Peers

« Back  |  

It is a common misconception that online high school students miss out on the socialization component that a traditional school offers. However, students are breaking down the digital barrier and proving that participating in online clubs actually enhances the socialization aspect of virtual schooling.

Kathleen Hofmaier, an English teacher at ASU Prep Digital, has witnessed firsthand how joining online clubs has had a positive impact on how her students interact with one another.

“I’m actually an advisor for five online clubs for high school students — Student Government, Journalism/Yearbook Club, Exploring Western Religion Club, Mythology Club, and Book Club,” Hofmaier said. “Students have interests and they want to socialize, so I want to help them in any way that I can.”

Just as traditional schools have clubs that students can participate in, online schools offer the same opportunity to their students. While students may not be meeting face-to-face, they are still just as engaged and excited to connect with their peers.

“The clubs we have are a blend of both teacher initiated and student-initiated,” Hofmaier said. “Students are willing, able, and eager to start clubs that they have a specific interest in and it’s exciting to see them take the initiative.”

In fact, she has helped foster friendships in the clubs she advises because she loves seeing her students getting to know each other outside of their club interactions.

“The student who started the Mythology club, Alexandra Smith, refers to herself as a ‘dragon nerd.’ Her willingness to be so vulnerable and ask for friends is really inspiring,” Hofmaier said. “We had a student enroll late who also claimed to be a ‘dragon nerd’ and I just knew I had to connect them. I helped facilitate the exchanging of emails and now they’re great friends.”

Each club meets once a week over Adobe Connect, a video conference service, which gives students the chance to see and talk to their peers in real time. But is participation in these clubs really enhancing the academic experience for students?

“I definitely see it positively impacting their academic performance,” Hofmaier said. “Because we are spending two to three days a week together, they know they have to have their schoolwork done ahead of time!”

She has also seen her students’ involvement in extracurricular activities help improve their confidence, which has contributed to their success in the classroom.

“I did have one student, Avvy, who was borderline academically–and then he joined student government,” Hofmaier said. “He was at a traditional school last year and ran for vice president and lost, so he was determined to be vice president this time around. We had an election, which he won, and ever since then, he has been phenomenal. He feels empowered and it’s been pretty cool to witness.”

The online learning environment is truly transforming and expanding the idea of socialization.

Since students don’t need to physically sit in class on a weekly basis, it puts the responsibility of engaging with their fellow peers in the students’ hands. While many of them attend their clubs once a week and are content with that amount of interaction, there are some students that go above and beyond.

“Hannah Stewart is the president of our student government and she really wants to get students together and have more of a community. She actually put together this huge proposal for an end of year trip, and I was so impressed with the amount of depth and effort she executed while doing this,” Hofmaier said. “She came up with a trip to San Diego where we visit the museums, tour the different campuses and then maybe do a fun activity, like Disneyland or SeaWorld. Even though it was postponed until next year, it was definitely cool to see them rally together and come up with this proposal for an end of the year trip.”

Attending an online high school puts the power of socialization in the students’ hands and helps them pave the way for a successful high school experience both academically and socially.

Visit our resources page for more information on all of the clubs available to students at ASU Prep Digital.