The benefits of online learning for rural and regional students

NEWS 22 Aug 2022

Around 7 million people, or 28 per cent of the Australian population, live in regional and rural parts of the country. In Victoria alone, around 1.7 million people live outside Melbourne and its suburbs.

For children and young people living in regional and rural areas, it can sometimes be difficult to find nearby schools that offer the breadth of subjects they want to explore. For those students, online learning can be a convenient solution and an alternative to having to move away from home to go to school.


More affordable – no boarding fees

Many families who have enrolled their children at Haileybury Pangea — Victoria’s first private online school for students in Years 5 to 12 are from rural and regional areas. Many of them see online schooling as a preferable alternative to sending their children to city boarding schools.

Instead of their children moving to metropolitan areas to live and study for most of the year, families may opt to pay for a high-quality online education to keep children closer to home. The financial savings are also significant for families who no longer have to pay boarding school fees.


Flexibility

Online learning allows students to fit their learning commitments around their day. For students who enjoy being part of the daily operations of a family farm or other rural or regional business, online learning provides much-needed flexibility about how they allocate the hours in their day.

Because while online schools have some set times during the week when students need to attend virtual classes or one-on-one sessions with their teachers, the rest of the school week offers a high level of flexibility.

Students can complete self-directed learning and assignments in their own time and so create a daily timetable that fits in with their lifestyle and other commitments.


Independence

Online learning also suits students who enjoy setting the pace of their learning and who crave the opportunity to delve deeper into subjects that capture their interest and imagination. Rather than their learning being micro-managed, they excel when it comes to being able to take a topic and learn both inside and outside the virtual classroom.

They enjoy being part of small online classes with young people who are also motivated to learn more and they enjoy the blend of learning alone and in smaller groups. Along the way, as well as building their academic knowledge, these students further develop key life skills such as time management, finding balance in their day and being accountable.


Create a community

While meeting up with peers to study or socialise can be more challenging for students who are part of an online school, online learning actively supports students forming virtual communities and forums that help to replicate the in-person learning experience.

At Haileybury Pangea, students can form their own study and discussion groups, arrange times online to discuss their projects with their peers and teachers, and form their own interest groups. Online schools also provide many additional resources that can help students deepen their study and strengthen their connections with their virtual classmates.


Providing a choice

Online learning isn’t right for every child — but it is a better fit for some children and young people in rural and regional communities who, until now, have had a limited selection of schools to choose from.

Rural and regional schools across Australia are a valued and important part of our education system. They are highly respected institutions within their communities and have served generations of families.

But some of those schools may not be able to deliver the range of subjects that they would like to be able to offer and online schools can fill some of those gaps for young people.

Australia is renowned for the quality and diversity of its educational system. Online schools are simply another choice for curious-minded young people who want to explore, discover, question and be inspired – whether in a bricks and mortar classroom or a virtual one.