An online school in an online learning environment

Male student studying online with headphones
Elaine Tibbatts

Online learning, digital learning, remote learning, blended learning, ed tech… These are just some of the words that have been used to describe education across the world as schools, colleges and universities have been forced to restructure their educational programmes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, whilst ‘online learning’ is set to remain a key part of education moving forward, there are some fundamental differences between this method of teaching and learning and educational programmes that are specifically designed for digital learning in a purpose-built online school.

There is no doubt that over the past 12 months educators have embraced the challenge of online learning and have adapted to the best of their ability, with very little notice and guidance in moving to this way of teaching. At the start of 2020, few settings would have been set up to deliver their programme of learning in this way and wouldn’t have had the technology or skills available to them to ensure effective delivery and student engagement.

In what has been a steep learning curve, many have come to realise that what works in a physical classroom doesn’t always translate well in an online environment. But, when done well, online learning can be as effective as learning in a brick-and-mortar classroom and indeed, has some very tangible benefits.

For over 20 years, Pearson has been supporting online schools to engage and flourish. Students at Pearson Online Academy US, Connections Academy and Harrow School Online are just some of the 105,000 children and young people across the world using our online learning platforms to power their learning. We are looking forward to welcoming even more at Pearson Online Academy UK Global when it opens its virtual doors this September.

The structure of learning in an online school is noticeably different. At Pearson Online Academy, the flipped classroom approach increases student engagement and encourages critical thinking. Our proven technology enables students to study from home, progressing through interactive self-study materials to develop an understanding of subject content before joining ‘LiveLesson’ sessions in virtual classrooms with expert teachers and their fellow students across the world.

By encouraging students to work through materials independently at a time and pace that suits them, and by using technology that generates deep insights about their learning, teachers can tailor lessons to the specific support or challenge requirements of the students in their class, with additional time freed up for them to work with individuals during one-to-one sessions.  

In contrast to online learning, where the focus is predominantly on pursuing academic progress, being part of an online school requires the provision of an all-round education. In addition to their rigorous and inspiring academic experience and extracurricular pursuits in sports, the arts, community service and academic enrichment, our online school students engage in activities that develop their leadership skills, perfect their English communication, build relationships and allow them to serve their global and local communities.

Empowering students to achieve academic excellence whilst supporting them to pursue their passions alongside peers from other countries means that online schools, like Pearson Online Academy UK Global, are able to create a global campus in which students broaden their understanding of different cultures and build an international network of friends. ​