Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, online learning has become a pivotal feature in daily life for teachers, students and families around the world. Yet, while countless households across the globe have now experienced the many benefits of remote education, some critics still voice doubts about its efficacy.
In this blog, we engage with the most common criticisms levelled at online schools and academies, and take a look at how, with the right support and strategies, these concerns soon fall by the wayside. In fact, when it comes to considering the classrooms of the future, remote learning offers endless opportunities for students – and their communities – to thrive.
Myth 1: “Online learning is one-size-fits-all – it isn’t tailored to individual needs”
Some critics of online learning assume that, without in-person classrooms, it’s impossible for teachers to assess the needs of their students and properly meet them. By connecting with the most highly advanced educational technology, this notion couldn’t be further from the truth.
Rather than overlooking individuals, the ability of online learning to combine LiveLessons, one-to-one professional support and independent study, makes it a form of education that is both highly flexible and truly personal. The Pearson Online Academy offers a data-rich environment to teachers in which student progress is carefully followed, with engagement closely analysed so that staff can offer bespoke coaching in response.
Additionally, we provide access to self-study materials that enable students to take in knowledge at a depth and pace to suit them, while flexible appointments for one-to-one support mean that learners are empowered to develop their own personal learning pathways.
Myth 2: “Online learning means students participate less”
While online students may not be physically present within the four walls of a classroom, when remote education is done well each learner remains a core member of the school environment. Our students receive constant, targeted feedback on their progress through one-to-one sessions with their teachers, while the interactive nature of our LiveLessons has been designed to thoroughly maximise participation. In an engaged – and engaging – online class such as those hosted by our teachers, every learner is seen and heard, with no one left behind. In fact, many online learners report that, when away from the distractions of the physical classroom environment, they find it much easier to focus and thrive.
Myth 3: “Online learning can’t offer social, moral and cultural development.”
There is a crucial difference between independent learning and learning on your own. At Pearson Online Academy, we champion the former: our independent learning journeys offer myriad opportunities to connect with the whole-school community. As well as enjoying access to a range of extracurricular activities – from student newspapers and art clubs to online get-togethers – students engage in their studies alongside peers from around the world, regularly connecting across countries and cultures during their LiveLessons. The result? Well-rounded, social students who are routinely encouraged to think of the future adults they will become.
Myth 4: “Students learn poorly in remote classrooms because they lack self-discipline.”
When a student appears unmotivated to engage with their schoolwork, this is usually the result of feeling disempowered and/or unseen within their usual learning environment. What a successful online school will do is create a strong sense of empowerment for its learners, giving them structures within which students build their own unique schedules, balancing study and work with other commitments.
Thanks to the careful support of trained student mentors, teachers and Success Coaches, each of our students received the guidance they need not only to succeed within the curriculum, but to develop invaluable life skills, including time-management and self-discipline – skills that will serve them well at university, and in their future career.
Myth 5: “Online learning restricts student outcomes, and limits academic potential.”
Pearson Online Academy is a deeply person-centric academic establishment, built on the foundations of Pearson’s 20+ years of experience in online learning. Our ethos is the same as that held within most traditional classroom environments: to support all students to achieve their full learning potential and aspire for success at university and beyond.
Our dedicated team of support staff – which includes teachers and Success Coaches – collectively work to prepare students for competitive applications to the world’s best universities, jobs and placements. Regular one-to-one coaching sessions, and committed group workshops, help them further not only their academic ability, but their personal and social skills. Far from being restrictive or limiting, our programmes improve access to achievement for all students, whatever their location or learning style.
Myth 6: “Unless parents and carers contribute to home-schooling students, online classrooms don’t work.”
Online learning can provide parents and carers with an unprecedented insight into their children’s education, with real-time access to view their performance, grades and study time. What Pearson Online Academy does not do, at any point, is require parents and carers to ‘babysit’ students as they carry out their studies. All the support learners need is at their fingertips – whether through coaching sessions, message boards, informal meetups or online classrooms.
By equipping our students with the software and skills they need to succeed today, we set them up for bolder, brighter, better-connected futures tomorrow, and help close the gaps that geography, culture and time-zones have kept in place for generations.