Online learning (in an official academic capacity, anyway) originated as an option for non-traditional college students so they could complete work on their own time and continue with their day-to-day activities.
Whether those day-to-day activities were working at a full-time job, staying home with children, or any of a number of other reasons, remote education is continuing to become more desirable and more accessible at the collegiate level and beyond.
In 2019, more than one-third of students enrolled at an institution of higher education took at least one class online, and the trend is continuing to grow and reach other arenas of education, including high school.
Here are 4 benefits of online learning at the high school level.
Money, Money, Money
Tuition cost is a hot topic, and as it continues to rise at the college level, online classes are also a great way to help keep those costs down. More than one-third of college students reported being either food or home “insecure” during their time in school, and the percentage of high schoolers is even higher, and online education can help students who struggle financially at every level.
Many public schools are enacting some level of remote learning, but in the private education sector, full-time, online high schools are also becoming more and more accessible. San Diego, for instance, offers a tuition-free, fully accredited virtual school for any student who meets a (short) list of requirements, including locale, and the obligation of having to take at least five courses per semester.
Dropping out is also often a financial decision for high school students who need to find work, and the flexibility of online education can help those students who need to help put food on their families’ tables continue to pursue their diplomas, and ultimately a college degree.
Wider Breadth of Educational Material
Historically, students would have to go on field trips to see real-world instances of the material they were learning about. With the constant evolution of the internet and what is available on it, field trips are certainly no longer the only way to see practical implementation of lessons learned in the classroom.
Technology, in particular, is such an everchanging and vast field of study that it is impractical to believe a single teacher can pique the tech interests of every student in a given classroom. Utilizing online resources, technology can be studied at a much more granular level.
In addition, many colleges and universities also offer online courses to high school students who want to get a jump start on their degrees. It’s a great way to get college credit and learn something beyond the classroom curriculum offered at a given high school.
Not All Kids are the Same!
A classroom is, simply put, not the best learning environment for every child in America. As a somber-but-relevant example, more than 31 percent of high schoolers reported feelings of depression, and many of the reasons for that depression involved interactions at school.
Online learning affords students who tend to learn better in privacy or seclusion, do just that. Some other issues in high schoolers that can be more easily managed with online education include anxiety, bullying, learning disabilities, visual disabilities, emotional problems, or students who are temporarily unable to attend class due to a health issue, or something of the like.
According to Dr. Carolyn Parker, director of the master of arts in teaching program within the online School of Education at American University, “Online learning is also greener- instead of sending home paper homework, students can complete assignments through a shared document. I do, however, have concerns around equity of access. Not all students have easy access to the technology that is needed to learn online. I worry that this disparity of access will widen the achievement gap between students whose families can afford technology and students whose families are financially struggling and cannot as easily provide the technology that supports online learning.”
Vocational and Life Skills
Even at the collegiate level, training and education in the workings of daily adult lives and workplace etiquette is very limited. A survey of business owners conducted by the YMCA revealed that “basic life skills” was the area that young employees lacked the greatest.
“I believe that high school students have benefited from asynchronous online learning because learning can be in real-time, when busy high schoolers are available. And, because online learning technologies are ubiquitous in our society, online education also prepares students for life after the K-12 setting,” says Dr. Parker.
There is even less vocational and life education required at the high school level, but many interactive online programs exist to help young men and women prepare for their adult lives. From personal finance to workplace communication, life skills of youngsters are being impeded by technology, but ironically, that same technology can help educate them on these off-the-curriculum areas of study.
The list goes on, and is worth looking into if you are having any sort of shortcomings about public school, or your current student isn’t fully served by what he or she is experiencing in a traditional learning environment. Every child is different, and with the constant evolution of technology, more options for maximizing a child’s learning potential come to fruition every day.