The Online Learning Advantage

Online classrooms are an opportunity for students from all walks of life to learn anytime and anywhere. Blended with on campus learning – or standing alone – online learning is all about flexibility and choice.

NEWS 5 Jul 2022

The arrival of COVID-19 caused global upheavals, including in the world of education.

More than ever before, schools were forced to take learning online and harness 21st century technology to deliver lessons, while also keeping students and school communities safe and connected.

More than two years after the pandemic, a lot has been learnt about how virtual classrooms can either integrate with face-to-face learning, or offer children and families another education choice.

A 2021 Monash University study found that in the wake of COVID-19, 76.6 per cent of schools are looking at how they can create a more flexible, hybrid school model that makes the most of online learning in the curriculum.

Long before COVID, leading educators have delved into the opportunities and benefits of online learning for children – the pandemic underscored those benefits and highlighted the potential of online learning.

“Technology has always had an impact on education – it has always found a way into the classroom, but at a slower pace. The pandemic accelerated the impact and momentum,” says Michelle Dennis, Head of Digital at Haileybury.

What are the benefits of online learning?

Removing barriers for students who would otherwise miss out.

These students might be elite athletes, professional performers, or live on a cattle station far from the nearest bricks and mortar school. Perhaps they have a chronic illness and travelling to school is a challenge. Online learning removes barriers. As long as students have a computer and internet connection, they can attend school.

Greater accessibility and more options.

Online schooling broadens subject choices for students in areas where curriculum options are limited. Online learning can also reach and engage students who, for a range of reasons, are less comfortable in a mainstream school.

Potential for flexibility and personalisation.

Online learning can happen at times that suit a student’s schedule. Classes must be attended and assignments must be completed by deadlines, but students can manage the rest of their time. They can tackle complex tasks when they are more focused and productive and revise when they are most likely to absorb information. Learning resources are available online 24/7 so students can access information whenever they need it.

Developing independent and confident learners.

Research suggests that when students have more choices about how they learn, their motivation grows and this can boost academic successes. Students who learn online need to take initiative and take greater charge of their learning. They manage their time and direct some of their own learning and so they develop confidence, competence and independence – all valuable qualities in the years after school.

Increase in parental understanding and involvement.

Students who learn online can be more closely supervised and supported by parents, so parents gain greater insights into what children are learning and how they learn. Parental involvement in their child’s education is a key factor in students not only achieving academically, but being happy and healthy.

Greater comfort with technology.

Students who learn online all or most of the time become highly proficient and comfortable with the latest technology. In a world increasingly driven by technology, this familiarity with the latest software and smart gadgets creates students who are ready and confident to navigate the world beyond school.