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What kinds of students thrive through online learning?

NEWS 15 Aug 2022
“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
R. Buckminster Fuller, architect, inventor and global thinker

In the past few years, periods of pandemic-enforced online learning saw students of all ages switch on their devices and learn everything from maths and English to French, geography and music in virtual classrooms.

They learned in loungerooms, bedrooms, at kitchen tables and from pretty much any location that could provide an internet connection, some desk space and some peace and quiet to listen and work.

Beyond a one size fits all approach to learning

Schools are now back and many students have happily returned to campus and the traditional classroom. However, those periods of enforced online learning gave students and families the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of what this kind of learning can offer and, in some cases, they have realised it better suits a child’s temperament, learning style and lifestyle.

Online learning isn’t right for every child — but it is certainly a better fit for some children and young people whose lifestyle and commitments don’t fit the 8.30 am to 3.45 pm school routine.

Australia has many programs for talented young athletes and for those who excel in the performing arts. Succeeding in sport, drama, music or on stage involves many hours of extra training and tuition each week and that can be difficult to fit around the traditional school timetable.

Bespoke and flexible

Online learning offers those students a bespoke timetable that allows them to fulfil their other commitments alongside completing their education.

Haileybury Pangea is Victoria’s first private online school for students in Years 5 to 12. Since launching, the school has received many enquiries from families with children who are juggling significant commitments outside school and for whom online learning is a more flexible choice.

Similarly, Haileybury Pangea has had enquiries from families living in rural and regional areas of Australia who see online schooling as an alternative to boarding school. Instead of children having to move to the city to live and study for much of the year, instead they are able to remain with their family and still receive a high-quality and rich education.

Setting their own pace

Online learning also suits students who are self-motivated learners who enjoy setting the pace of their learning and deep diving into subjects that inspire them. Rather than their school day being micro-managed and restricted by a traditional timetable, they thrive in planning much of their school day.

They embrace the opportunities that arise in taking part in small online classes and in being connected to similarly motivated learners, they like to work hard and they are equally happy and dedicated working solo or in smaller teams. Along the way, these students learn vital life skills such as time management, finding balance in their day and being accountable for getting work done.

Finding confidence and a voice

Online learning can also support students who, for different reasons, find the bricks and mortar classroom uncomfortable. Students with less confidence who may blend into the background in traditional classrooms can often find their voice and build their confidence in a virtual setting.

Finally, online schools may offer subjects that smaller schools may not be able to deliver. At Haileybury Pangea, students can continue their education at their current school and supplement that by completing a single VCE subject online.

So, if a school doesn’t offer Latin or Algorithmics and a student wants to learn a classical language or the basics of one of the oldest fields of computer science, online schooling may be the place where they can follow their passion…