The worldwide lockdowns resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic have had an enormous impact on the education of children around the world. UNICEF has estimated that the education of over 1.5 billion children worldwide has been affected in some way, and will continue to be affected throughout 2021. In order to maintain some form of continuity in education throughout the pandemic, the education sector is responding to Covid-19 by turning to online learning. As a result of this, we are witnessing a major shift in the student learning environment, where the focus is shifting away from a predominantly face-to-face classroom model to a hybrid classroom-online model.
Like all changes, online learning can pose significant short-term challenges as we adapt to the new way of working, but there are inherent benefits to switching to online learning. Perhaps one of the most interesting benefits is that the Research Institute of America found that learning retention rates went from 8% – 10% for face-to-face learning to 25% – 60% for online learning. Being able to more than double learning retention rates is likely to have a significant impact on how educators deliver school programs, as well as emphasizing the importance of switching to online learning
Trend Toward Online Learning
In Canada, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend toward online learning by the traditional bricks-and-mortar schools, and at the same time, it has also created increased interest in virtual schools, like Apex Academy Online, which offer self-paced online high school courses. Students now have a choice as to how they study for their high school courses in a way that best suits them. Never before in the history of education have students been able to choose their preferred approach to learning, helping them to realize their potential in a way that compliments their learning style.
The rate at which the Covid-19 pandemic struck forced the bricks-and-mortar educators to quickly adapt the way they delivered online high school courses in Ontario and across Canada. The predominant approach was a hybrid of synchronous, teacher-led virtual classroom sessions, supported by individual student-based online exercises to reinforce the subject matter. The tight implementation time frame allowed for very little planning or development of how to best manage the content delivery, student development, and student motivation leading to an approach that left many students and teachers frustrated and feeling potentially isolated. As frustrating as this situation may be, it has also offered students and parents the opportunity to evaluate the best approach for them to take control, so they can achieve their educational goals.
Flexible Course Delivery
What has come out of the enforced shift to online schooling is the opportunity for students to experience the online learning environment to find out which approach works best for their learning style. There is more to online learning than re-creating a virtual classroom where a teacher delivers a lesson as though students were in a physical classroom. Students have the opportunity to transform how they learn, potentially moving from an environment that has must-attend teaching slots to an environment where they are free to schedule their own study time and explore, at their own pace, the wealth of online high school course material available.
Expertise and experience in delivering online schooling can make all the difference. Online schools in Ontario, such as Apex Academy Online, understand the importance of creating an open, supportive learning environment where students can grow and make the most of their online courses. Rather than setting a rigid learning schedule, Apex Academy Online offers an asynchronous model that allows the student to work at their own pace and on a schedule that best suits their lifestyle. Online lesson modules are structured to present the course material in engaging and innovative ways to offer students the best possible opportunity for success. In addition to this, Apex Academy Online also gives students access to teachers and guidance counselors, as well as other students, who can help guide and assist them as they progress through the course. The flexibility this offers helps students create and maintain personal connections that are important in their academic and social development. In many ways, the online school environment can become an extension of a student’s existing online social network, giving them a sense of consistency and belonging.
Change can be challenging, but at the same time, it can offer new and exciting opportunities. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it many difficulties, but it has also created a unique opportunity for students to step back and identify the best way they can take control of their educational goals. The situation that has been created through the upheaval of the pandemic has in turn created a unique opportunity for students to choose an online school that best suits their learning approach and individual needs.