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Online High School
By LARREN SMITH 468 views

Exploring the Educational Benefits of Online High School

Online learning used to be a fringe alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms – a techy, progressive option for students and parents willing to experiment with new forms of education.

However, in the last decade (and certainly since the pandemic), online high schools have shed that “alternative” reputation. They are now an accepted, widely used, and roundly embraced sector of the education industry.

As more students flock to the digital hallways of online high schools, it helps to take stock of what these institutions offer. What are online high schools? How do online schools benefit students academically? And what further advantages do they provide students seeking an accessible, flexible, worry-free high school experience?

Below, let’s explore the diverse benefits of this growing trend in education.

What Is Online High School, and Are They All Created Equal?

While online schools have soared in popularity recently, some parents might still feel unacquainted with their fundamental premise of them. That’s understandable. Online high schools deliver the same education as traditional, brick-and-mortar institutions – only completed via a computer. All of the course content, resources, tests, exams, group projects, etc., are contained neatly within an online hub that students can access remotely. They talk to their teachers online, converse with peers online, and earn their credits online.

That’s the basic criteria for an online school. However, it should be noted that not all online high schools are created equally. At a minimum, a good online school should be credentialed and ministry inspected, licensed to license to dispense credits toward a diploma that is recognized by post-secondary institutions. The best online schools take it a step further: they offer self-paced and flexible courses; they emphasize support; they staff experienced and motivated teachers and faculty; and leverage multimedia materials and tools to boost student engagement.

For an example of one of the best online high schools, visit the Ontario eSecondary School website. In particular, browse the FAQ and “About” sections.

The Educational Benefits of Online School

As online high schools began ascending in popularity, educational scholars took note. They didn’t just see a trend – they saw a potential revolution in education that could help redress certain longstanding problems with how students traditionally learned in classrooms.

Below, explore three of the most significant educational benefits of online high schools.

Self-Paced Learning Boosts Retention and Educational Outcomes

As mentioned, the best online high schools are self-paced, meaning they follow an “asynchronous learning model” where students each learn at their own speed. If a student needs to take longer on a specific math unit, they can. Likewise, if a student can race through an English unit on graphic novels, they can. Students are in charge of how they learn best.

A recent scholarly study from the Department of Health and Human Services found that self-paced learning “significantly improves memory performance” compared to the alternative, traditional learning model.

Moreover, self-paced learning helps students who struggle with school by giving them a safe environment to work through the material – without feeling pressured by a universal classroom pace. Students who traditionally feel “unchallenged” by high school courses can get ahead in their studies by working faster, earning credits quicker, and graduating sooner. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Multimedia Learning Optimizes Education for Various Learning Styles

By virtue of being online, digital schools can leverage technology to deliver their course material. In a digital classroom, you will often find conventional materials like written texts sitting alongside multimedia elements like audio recordings, interactive modules, visual infographics, and more.

This diverse approach to materials ensures that various learning styles feel comfortable in the online classroom. According to the influential VARK model, students innately prefer one or more learning modes as their preferred way to digest course content: visual, audio, reading/writing, and kinesthetic modes. By offering multimedia learning opportunities, online schools cover their bases, ensuring every student has a chance to shine.

Learning Styles
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Online Learning and Soft Skill Development

Because online learning is digital and self-paced, it fosters certain critical soft skills. Since there’s no physical teacher’s presence to keep them on track, students learn the importance of time management. Because they complete their presentations and group work online, students hone their digital communication skills. Students also learn soft skills like self-motivation, critical thinking, and active listening during their online studies.

These soft skills are essential in the modern world. Modern workplaces and post-secondary institutions require people to be self-reliant, digitally fluent, and active in their work. Online high schools set students up for success in these regards.

Further Benefits of Online Learning for High School Students

The educational benefits of online learning are only one side of the coin. To understand the skyrocketing popularity of online learning, you must also look at its other advantages. To round out our portrait of online high schools, let’s explore a few benefits commonly cited by students who’ve made the switch:

  • Online High School as a Flexible, Convenient, and Accessible Alternative: Students often make the switch to online school because they don’t like the rigid structure of a brick-and-mortar institution. At an online high school, students can work from home, on vacation, at the library, and wherever else they want. It’s a convenient, commute-free, and flexible alternative. It’s also a stellar option for students with mobility issues or who otherwise find physical schools inaccessible.
  • Easy-to-Access Support Systems for Smoother High School Experiences: The best online schools are unrivaled in their support systems. In addition to offering one-on-one time with teachers and faculty, they offer 24/7 tutoring services that students can access whenever they feel lost in their studies. This robust approach to support creates a smoother high school experience with better chances for academic success.
  • High School Without the Social Minefield: Finally, some students prefer online learning because it’s removed from the social politics of a regular high school. At online schools, you rarely find the peer pressure, bullying, and social hierarchies that sometimes plague students at brick-and-mortar institutions. a

As online high schools continue to command a greater share of the conversation in the education industry, it pays to understand their merits. Hopefully, this article helped unpack the educational and lifestyle advantages that have helped turn online schools from a fringe alternative into a widely embraced scholarly option.

larren SMith

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