Broaden Students’ Educational Opportunities with Online Learning
There is a lot of competition for the attention of today’s students. A swirl of extracurricular activities, personal or health issues, responsibilities, interests, and hobbies can conspire to divert students’ focus before and after the bell. When the traditional school model is no longer able to provide a spark for a student's enrichment, both school and student may find themselves stumbling. Broadening the educational opportunities that meet the needs of students is a way forward.
The business world faces similar challenges with its workforce. Organizations have had to reimagine, energize, and reinvent how work gets done. Recent stories in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post all point to remote work being here to stay, in effect leveraging technology to empower people. The workplace of the future includes working online or through a hybrid form of remote work. This gives organizations an opportunity to become more human-centric, nimble, resilient, and enduring. These wheels of change have been in motion for some time; educational institutions are taking note.
The pandemic rapidly activated a marked shift to remote learning out of necessity. This shift played into the hands of a behavioral and digital transformation of traditional media that was already occurring. Students, teachers, and parents were willing to accept new tech-centric learning tools. The online learning phenomenon has endured, and those institutions who continue to lean into it are better positioned for the future. In the long run, supplementing traditional classroom instruction and expanding course offerings with online learning are a means to accelerate and expand students’ educational horizons.
Broaden voices and experiences
Teachers will always be the backbone of the educational system. Their ability to connect with students through personalized instruction and engagement is invaluable and irreplicable. There is no denying that teachers are essential. Setting aside the skill, tact, and value of teachers, there are finite factors a school faces. To begin with, there are only so many teachers a school can keep in its employ, limited to their fields of expertise. And, those teachers only have so much time in a day, as they are bound by the constraints of the typical school day.
With online learning, a school’s catalog of courses instantly expands to meet any students’ abilities or interests. Courses in specialized sciences, technology, and mathematics can satisfy all levels of acumen. Meanwhile, the faculty size that would be necessary to teach the number of online courses in humanities and world languages staggers the mind—making it untenable for any brick and mortar school. Students are no longer confined to the four walls of a classroom or limited by the reasonable geographical radius of a school bus field trip. Guest speakers and virtual field trips can transport students to anywhere—from colonial Williamsburg to outer space.
Increase schedule flexibility
According to statistics provided by Mental Health America, over 16% of youth (age 12–17) reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year.
The onus is on schools to be sensitive as to why students might need schedule flexibility. It is outmoded for schools to unilaterally apply the same rigors and schedule to every student. A school may find it more prudent to offer a personalized, asynchronous online experience. This can elevate a student's experiences while alleviating the stress of distractions.
Students lead complex lives outside the classroom. Extracurricular activities, which certainly help round out a student’s school experience, can inadvertently compete for valuable study time. Moreover, students might be dealing with a host of less obvious issues: family problems, household responsibilities, anxiety, mental health hurdles, and geographical limitations. Giving students more choice about how they would like to work, and how they best study is a step in the right direction. At a minimum, it makes students an active participant in how they manage their time. Schools can increase their support for student well-being by structuring lessons and experiences that strike a balance of online and in-classroom learning.
Certify strong curriculums
Online learning is only as strong as its courses. Accreditation is a crucial tool in maintaining high standards for the courses offered online. If schools decide to offer online learning themselves or through a third party partner, they should make sure that they have checks for quality assurance in place. At Catholic Virtual, for example, all education services are reviewed and certified every six years by a team of teaching experts from Cognia, an accreditation and certification organization with 125 years of experience.
Pat Hoge is the Chief Academic Officer of Hudson Global Scholars, of which Catholic Virtual is a member. She oversees academic accreditation, the proper application of educational policies, teacher recruitment and training, and curriculum development. She also makes certain that the curriculum provided by academic partners meets Hudson's high standards. “It is up to us to ensure that we never let up on quality assurance monitoring,” says Hoge. “Our students and their families depend on us to get it right, and we take our promise to them very seriously.”
A win-win for students and schools
As the online learning model gains maturity, students and schools are finding it to be mutually beneficial. Schools, in their responsibility for developing students, are better poised to do so when their educational tools are in lockstep with the remote work model of the current business world. This means going beyond traditional participation metrics and shifting the focus to outcomes. In turn, schools get a student body that is happier, confident, and leading-edge. Students enjoy enhanced education through variety, schedule flexibility, and certifiably rigorous curriculums.
Catholic Virtual is the trusted online partner of Catholic schools. We provide the curriculum, teaching, and support to help schools deliver quality online education. As a fully accredited online Catholic school program, we offer a wide range of online courses and delivery options to suit your school and students. Learn how you can partner with Catholic Virtual today.
There are many options available to expand your school’s course catalog with online learning, but very few provide the combination of academic excellence, expertise in online instruction, and Catholic values your school needs.
Catholic schools are renowned for their commitment to academic excellence and religious education. However, in today’s evolving landscape, Catholic schools face unique challenges in retaining students and fostering enrollment growth. One way to help schools engage students and appeal to a wider audience is by expanding the curriculum with online courses—providing many benefits to students and your school. In this guide, we will explore the benefits of integrating online courses and provide practical insights to help navigate this path successfully.
Benefits of Integrating Online Courses
To meet the diverse needs of your students, expanding the course catalog through online courses offers several advantages. Keep reading to discover six key benefits of integrating online courses into a traditional Catholic school:
Increase the attractiveness of your school to prospective and current students
- A robust offering of courses, including a wide range of electives, increases the attractiveness of your school and improves the chances a student will enroll. Online courses from a quality partner allow you to attract new students with a wide selection of interesting courses such as Advanced Placement® and honors, web design, business, cybersecurity, music, and more.
- Students attending your school are more engaged in learning, and more likely to stay enrolled in your school, when you have an interesting array of course options.
- Courses from an accredited partner with high-quality teaching can provide a learning experience with the same high standards as you deliver in the classroom.
Offer flexible learning options
- Many online courses can be taken as an independent study, with students learning outside the classroom on a very flexible schedule. This allows students to take additional courses without interfering with their regular school schedule.
- A hybrid learning approach, with students learning in person and online, can provide a very engaging learning experience due to its flexibility and the combination of in-person, online, and independent instruction and study methods.
Provide an easy option for high school students to recover lost credits
- Even the best students sometimes struggle with a subject in high school and fail to earn credit toward graduation. Online courses are ideal for high school credit recovery because they are created to focus on the subject matter a student needs to learn to be successful and adapt accordingly.
- Credit recovery courses can be completed in less than a full semester, making them ideal for learning during the summer. Online credit recovery courses can be delivered without hiring another teacher to instruct during the summer break.
Give Students the Opportunity to Learn Over the Summer
- Your school can offer an extensive range of courses during the summer when they are delivered online. Summertime is an excellent time for students to explore new topics, move ahead in their studies, or make up lost high school credits. An online learning provider can supply your school with a wide variety of courses during the summer, from core, to elective, to religion courses.
- You can avoid many of the administrative tasks associated with running a summer school program when you partner with an online education provider, allowing you to focus instead on preparing for the upcoming school year.
Fulfill the school’s mission of providing religious instruction
- Central to a Catholic school education is instruction in faith. Online religion courses can give your school flexibility and add depth to your religious instructional offerings. While not a replacement to in-person religious instruction, online courses can be an excellent complement to your program.
- A high-quality, online, Catholic school partner is equipped to help you deliver on your school’s mission to educate the mind and spirit of your students. Choose to partner with an organization that can deliver not only on academic excellence, but also understands the central role of the Catholic faith in your school.
Offer cost-effective and flexible solutions
- There is no need to hire additional teachers. For example, if students in your school are interested in learning Latin, you may struggle to find a qualified teacher. With an online course, a highly qualified Latin teacher can instruct your students from wherever they live, saving you the trouble of hiring and the cost of a teacher’s salary.
- There are no minimum class sizes. If you have one student or 30 students interested in a subject, an online course can readily accommodate both scenarios. For specialized subjects where student demand may be unpredictable, you do not need to worry about having to cancel a course if enrollment is insufficient—or bear the cost of teaching a very small class.
- An online course may cost less than your school’s tuition, giving you the opportunity to use this difference to improve students’ learning experience in other ways.
- Online courses can be up and running quickly, allowing you to add courses even up until soon before the start of the semester.
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