By Jo Vigneron, Principal, Pearson Online Academy
The practice of online schooling or remote instruction upended the foundation of traditional education at the beginning of 2020. As parents and students were forced to stay home due to the pandemic, they had the opportunity to help their children learn from home during a time of uncertainty in academia. Since then, online education, a relatively new phenomenon in the history of education, has become an integral part and positively shifted parents’ attitudes toward online schooling. The trend has been experiencing a steady growth rate of 2% to 8% every year.
The movement of homeschooling began in the 1970s as an alternative educational option to brick-and-mortar schools but was not practised on a large scale. However, today there is an increased understanding of, and appreciation for, the flexibility of online education and the benefits it offers such as personalised learning and the fact that learning can take place almost anywhere and is no longer confined to the four walls of a classroom.
Since the onset of the pandemic, education boards and school leaders, focused on getting schools back to a pre-pandemic normal, now find their main aim is on creating safe learning environments that meet the needs of their pupils and families in the K-12 system.
88% of learners globally agreed that online learning will be a permanent part of primary, secondary, and higher education moving forward
Pearson’s Global Learner Survey 2020, revealed that post the unexpected shift to online education during the pandemic, 88% of learners globally agreed that online learning will be a permanent part of primary, secondary, and higher education moving forward. Additionally, a considerable share of faculty worldwide has shown willingness to support less traditional education models and rely more on digital platforms.
Pearson Online Academy (POA) UK Global, offering International GCSEs and A levels opened its virtual doors to its founding students in September of this year. In doing so it marked a significant shift in online education, for this is, in essence, the closest one gets to a brick-and-mortar school but without the constraints of a physical environment. The school transcends borders and time zones, enabling students around the globe to access learning, converse and collaborate in a world without borders.
Unhindered by walls and time zones learning and exchange of ideas flourish
A main aim for POA is to enable students worldwide to achieve a well-rounded education that facilitates the growth of academic excellence, creativity and emotional well-being through affordable, high-quality online education. Our high-quality British curriculum, offering International GCSEs and A levels, gives students the flexibility to focus on their interests and learn from anywhere in the world whilst also meeting rigorous university entrance requirements.Some of the benefits of enrolling a child in a private online school include:
Online learning offers benefits that traditional learning does not. These benefits include freedom from the confines of time and space enabling our students to travel and pursue their passions whilst not compromising on high-quality education. The use of innovative learning tools and strategies along with increased personal interaction with instructors builds strong relationships and the confidence to ask questions, take risks and accelerate learning. In the longer run, web-based learning is also beneficial to meet the needs of learners and promote life-long learning.
Flipped Classroom Model
The flipped classroom is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space. This results in the group space being transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator becomes the facilitator of learning, guiding students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. The four pillars of a F-L-I-P learning model include a flexible environment, learning culture, intentional content and professional educator. In this model, students finish the lower level of cognitive work before class allowing them to engage in higher cognitive levels of learning with peers and teachers present during their’ Live Lessons’. This model facilitates the development of critical and creative thinking skills alongside the ability to communicate particulately, preparing students well for adult life.
Underpinning our ‘Live Lessons’ at Pearson Online Academy is our technology and our platform Pearson Connexus which hosts the students’ asynchronous study materials and facilitates the flipped learning model. Students work on the platform is closely monitored by their teachers enabling teachers to access their progress and plan lessons that meet the needs of every student at the exact point required to ensure maximum progress.
Online learning offers benefits that traditional learning does not
Our students are growing in a world filled with, evermore, technological advancements and the world of work is transforming into spaces we do not yet know. In order to thrive, they need to become adept problem solvers, creators and lateral thinkers able to adapt to and manage change at speed. The online classroom is a natural environment in which these skills flourish. Unhindered by walls and time zones learning and exchange of ideas flourish and our students thrive in this environment.
Maths, science and literacy are often the main focus of the traditional school curriculum, with the more creative and sporting elements taking second place. However, in today’s world where machines are programmed to do many human jobs our young people of today will find themselves with increased leisure time and the need to pro-actively connect with others. It is, therefore, of vital importance, that we nurture soft skills; kindness, compassion and empathy in our children and encourage their natural
Although very new, Pearson Online Academy has already defined its identity as one based on kindness, in which to care for and support others is paramount. This ethos is manifested in all aspects of daily school life. The values of compassion, integrity and perseverance run deep in all that we do and our pupils actively demonstrate these traits on a daily basis.
Our teachers, at Pearson Online Academy, prioritise building positive relationships and facilitating respectful interactions with their students and, in doing so, they create healthy and happy classroom environments that help learning and meet students’ developmental, emotional and educational needs. It is the success of these relationships, alongside the meticulous planning and provision of personalised and detailed support, for students, that ensures the extension for those who are flying through the curriculum whilst simultaneously closing gaps in knowledge or correcting misconceptions for those at a different stage of their learning journey.
Online learning has become irreversibly integrated into modern education
Two key features, of Pearson Online Academy’s success in personalising learning, are our ‘Teacher Connect’ and ‘The Hub’.
Our Teacher Connect system allows students to directly book sessions of 15 minutes or more with their teachers, and vice versa, at the touch of a button. This access, enabling quick and targeted intervention and immediate support, ensures students receive the individualised attention needed for no student to be left behind and that those raring for extension are pushed and challenged to achieve their very best.
Additionally, ‘The Hub’ offers students the opportunity to Collaborate, Communicate and Concentrate in a shared space, much the same as the traditional Common Room. They can meet in groups to socialise together, work quietly in a shared space and collaborate on projects and homework. Furthermore, we have tutor groups, assemblies and a broad and varied co-curricular programme that allows our students to engage with one another academically and share specific interests.
Online learning has become irreversibly integrated into modern education and there is no doubt that web-based education will continue to expand in depth and breadth. Institutions offering online education, undoubtedly, have a competitive edge over comparable institutions lacking online curriculum.
These are exciting times resulting in new and innovative ways of learning, bridging the digital divide and acting as a catalyst for innovation and digitisation in education systems around the globe.
As the world’s leading learning company, the purpose of Pearson seems more relevant than ever. Leading the way, as the world’s pre-eminent and digital-first company, focused on spearheading the rise in online and digital learning, and meeting the growing demand for dependable accreditation and certification this is a school to watch closely.