All About the OLC


The exterior of the OLC. Photo credit Marley Potter.

Marley Potter, Hour 5B

Most SPASH students have heard of the OLC, but how much about it do you really know? With the current semester ending, and a new one beginning, now is the perfect time to learn all about the OLC. Maybe you’ll even find yourself enrolling in a course!
What is the OLC?
The OLC is the Online Learning Center, a branch of SPASH that deals with online classes. With over a decade of history here, the OLC is an integral part of what makes SPASH unique. The OLC is an important part of SPASH, and can be extremely helpful for supplementing your schedule.
According to the informational page on the SPASH website, “The OLC strives to … empower participating secondary students to master new content and to become responsible, organized and independent learners with effective communication skills and effective digital literacy skills.” The OLC is intended to teach students important life skills that often are not taught in face to face classes, due to the format.
This page goes on to state that, “Online education enhances and expands current course offerings and provides another appropriate alternative to meet the learning needs of a diverse population of students.” Meaning that the option for online courses is not only a source of enrichment for students’ schedules, but also a way to accommodate different learning styles and academic needs.
One of the main draws of the OLC is that it is entirely self contained. Students are able to work at their own pace and complete coursework as they see fit. Classes take place entirely in a program online, so students do not need to go into an in person classroom to complete their work. Students are expected to keep pace with the assignments due dates, but past that, are able to decide when and where they complete their classwork.
Trends and Enrollment
The OLC has been an active part of education at SPASH since the spring of 2011, and in the 12 years since its inception, participation rates have increased nearly seven times over. The OLC started humbly with only 35 participants in its first school year, but that number has boomed to over 500 students in the 2021-2022 school year, with a peak of 671 students in the 2020-2021 school year, according to the OLC Student Participation Summary put together by the OLC.
According to Dana Glodowski, the Coordinator of the OLC, the boom of students enrolling can be credited to the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially, she states, the number of full time OLC students. While the OLC has always offered the option to complete a semester with all online classes, not many students took advantage of that before COVID. During the height of the pandemic, over 200 students were enrolled full time in the OLC; before covid, the number was 10 per semester, on average.

Graph of participant numbers divided by semester, created from a summary done by the OLC.

Although the number of students that enroll fluctuates often, some trends stay the same. One of these constants is the difference in numbers by semester. Mrs. Glowdowski says that the spring semester is always more popular with students than the fall semester, and the numbers agree!

Another constant trend is the courses that are popular. Apparently, Health and Personal Finance are very popular classes, likely because they are courses that every student is required to take in order to graduate. “Certain electives are more popular based on the year,” Mrs. Glowdowski says, “Electives that aren’t offered [in person] at SPASH, Criminology, for example, are usually more popular.”

Who should pursue?
Though the OLC is available to everyone, not everyone is able to thrive using the OLC. Mrs. Glowdowski herself noted that the OLC is “great for some students, sometimes, but not all students.” Not every student is able to do well in a self paced environment, and struggle to keep up with course work. However, those who are able to be successful often find themselves enjoying the ability to work on their own.
A good marker of a student that will thrive in the OLC are the three M’s, motivation, maturity, and time management, Mrs. Glowdowski asserts. Students that possess these traits are likely to be a good fit for the OLC.
If you feel you fit into those characteristics and you would like to learn more about enrolling in an online class, you can find more information at, talk to your counselor, or stop into the OLC across from the Counseling Office. The deadline for enrollment is January 30th, one week after the beginning of the spring semester.