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Busting The Myths

29.07.21

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. 

Want to learn more about Pearson Online Academy? Book a free one-to-one consultation with one of our friendly Admissions team today, or find full details on how to apply here. 

What is the flipped classroom? 

In a post-pandemic world, many of the things we would have only ever considered doing in-person, we now do without thinking online. We are all now so much more open to a combined online/in-person approach to practically every aspect of our lives that it has become the ‘new normal’, and the education environment is no exception.  

Mixing traditional and virtual classroom experiences is not a new, pandemic-driven concept. Many institutions – including Pearson Online Academy – were using this approach well before Covid-19 made it necessary, but the approach has flourished in recent times and is fast becoming a more mainstream education model. 

The benefits of a flipped classroom 

Take for example, the flipped classroom, which has seen increased uptake among teachers over the past few years, but even more so in the past 18 months. 

As the name suggests, this learning model essentially flips the traditional ‘class work/homework’ arrangement so that students consume lessons and course content at home via video and online platforms, and then ask questions, engage in discussions and complete exercises (that is, traditional homework activities) via interactive sessions with the teacher and other students inthe classroom. 

To date, the flipped classroom concept has been most widely adopted in university settings, but there is growing evidence to suggest that secondary students are also benefitting. 

In one survey, high school and middle school teachers reported that the flipped classroom allowed them to do more of their highest impact work. They could guide discussions, supervise group work, and target support to learners who need it – instead of spending class time explaining concepts in a one-size-fits-all way, which can be too slow for some learners and too fast for others. Meanwhile, each student can learn the concepts at home, at their own pace. 

However, teachers did point out that parent/carer involvement in at-home learning, as well as reliable technology, were crucial to a positive experience. 

Initially, many students may say they prefer the traditional classroom model and feel they learn more in this way, which is not necessarily the case. Thanks to online learning technology, flipped online sessions can be designed to promote ‘active learning’, which has been shown to increase students’ cognitive efforts, especially if the benefits and learning outcomes of the flipped approach are highlighted to students from the outset. 

Another study found that the flipped model helped students to deepen their learning by asking more meaningful questions in class, because they had time to develop new knowledge and reflect on the course content at home. In fact, many students from this particular study said they would welcome more flipped lessons in future. 

Overall, the combined current research suggests that when flipped classrooms are implemented appropriately, students tend to perform just as well as, if not slightly better than, those in traditional classrooms, and find the experience more engaging than the traditional classroom model. 

Is the flipped classroom here to stay? 

Online learning was effectively forced upon many teachers and students during the pandemic. This might have been a far-from-ideal breeding ground for positive education outcomes. However, during this time, the flipped classroom model has developed and evolved, integrating technology and interactivity for an optimal learning experience. 

A key factor of the flipped model’s success during the pandemic was the effective use of technology to ensure opportunities for relevant interaction and connection between students and teachers, and among students themselves. Senior research scientist Katherine McEldoon PhD says this is a vital part of successfully combining online and in-person teaching methods. 

This idea is further supported by a 2020 study that highlights how maintaining focused and meaningful interactions in online flipped sessions (via active teacher engagement and tools such as instant chat) was crucial to sustaining students’ engagement levels and academic performance. 

But choose wisely! The flipped classroom allows teachers to combine a wide range of digital tools with all the benefits of in-person interaction, to create a rich, multi-media education experience. However, no educational model is perfect for all situations. Good teaching should always involve defining clear learning goals and then identifying the best ways to support and embed that learning. 

Pearson Online Academy, for example, includes many features that help to optimise flipped classrooms, such as teacher videos and interactive activities to create a more dynamic active-learning experience than simply reading a textbook, and formative assessment for regular student progress checks. But above all, it is essential to ensure the tools, platforms, activities and interactions used are relevant to the content to be learned. 

It is clear that the education landscape has changed more in our post-pandemic world than ever before. And the research shows that innovative and dynamic learning models like the flipped classroom can help meet the needs of our more agile online society. 

When considered in line with the latest research and learning, and implemented collaboratively with teachers, students and parents alike, the flipped classroom can have positive outcomes for all involved. 

https://ukglobal.pearsononlineacademy.com

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