How online education builds independence and self advocacy in students

How online education builds independence and self-advocacy in students

If you think it is challenging to fit your child into a school, imagine instead a school that fits your child. That’s what Pearson Online Academy UK Global does – it places your child in the centre and builds around their needs.

Founded on Pearson’s 20-plus years’ expertise in designing a full online learning experience, this academy delivers Pearson Edexcel International GCSEs and A Levels for students aged 14–18 from across the world. It aims to empower students to achieve academic excellence through a high-quality online education and offers a new way for students everywhere to study the British curriculum. Or enhance their university application with exciting electives and rigorous coursework in their fields of interest.

Self-management and self-advocacy

One of the ways Pearson Online Academy UK Global helps students achieve excellence is through its focus on self-management, self-advocacy and metacognition – thinking about their own thinking – among students. It is done through activities such as think-aloud or stop and jot, and by making thought processes the focus of questions rather than content. For example, by asking students to visualise and explain how they will approach an independent task, rather than simply asking if they have any questions. “Young people who know themselves as learners and are able to propel themselves are markedly better prepared to succeed than their peers who need constant direction and supervision,” says Jo Vigneron, Principal, Pearson Global Online Learning. “Online learning by its very nature helps build these skills, and we work very intentionally to super-charge them.”

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Young people who know themselves as learners and are able to propel themselves are markedly better prepared to succeed than their peers who need constant direction and supervision.

– Jo Vigneron, Principal, Pearson Global Online Learning

The school teaches students to recognise the physical signs of feeling frustrated or confused such as a raised heart rate, sweat and tension in the upper body that indicates that they might be struggling to understand a lesson. “Increased self-awareness can help students to recognise that they need to ask for our help. Teachers always welcome questions from students during our LiveLessons, and we teach them how to tell us exactly what they found difficult and the different ways they can share this with us.”

Independent and self-reliant

At the academy, students are required to take responsibility of their education by setting goals, working independently – including a minimum of 30 hours a week on schoolwork – and by exploring their future university and career options. Vigneron points out that students who learn to take charge of their own learning are more often successful. Especially when supported by the structure of a complete school programme, alongside super curricular activities and support from expert teachers.

The school deploys highly skilled Success Coaches who are with a student at every step, helping them with the subjects they are learning, imbibing time-management habits, and instilling life skills that will be invaluable beyond the university and equip students for a successful career in the future. Besides, its flipped classroom approach specifically makes teachers available for individual sessions with students, for a minimum of one hour a day. Any teacher who has identified that help is needed, based on the student’s use of the interactive study materials and the self-assessment at the end of the lesson, schedules the sessions when required.

“Our students are able to take this control, improve independence and self-discipline, develop transferable skills and cross-cultural collaboration, build their wellness and become valuable members of society,” she explains.

Mixing studies and activities

Students are also encouraged to take part in group projects, volunteering work, in local sports and arts events, or create clubs on almost any topic under the sun — from artificial intelligence to films. “At our school, we shout loud and proud about our wide range of free, extracurricular activities,” explains Vigneron. “So, if you are curious about coding, burning to flex your journalist muscles through blogging, or keen to conquer the world with your pro chess moves, we’ve got the social event to suit you.” Clubs, tournaments, competitions and creative spaces at Pearson Online Academy UK Global will keep students’ social lives fresh throughout the year, bringing classmates into contact with more peers like them.

At home, but not alone

Remote learning typically conjures up images of lonely learners working solo, while looking solemn in front of their screens. Vigneron insists that it is far from the truth. “Here’s an updated image to keep in mind — a global network of switched-on students, connecting socially through a hub of activity, sharing ideas, conversations, culture and laughs. All these learners need to do is log in and open up to the possibilities.” Vigneron observes that the school enhances the bond between students and foster the development of communities that are global, not local. “Online classrooms are characteristically calm, productive and inclusive environments. Students make firm friends with academically focused peers. They do not feel lonely.”

During collective sessions at Pearson Online Academy UK Global, teachers lead personal interactions through learning portals, inviting lively group participation, setting up virtual breakout rooms, and maximising the scope for teamwork and collaboration. Participation is open to everyone, and unlike in traditional classroom formats, everybody’s progress receives equal attention – there is no room for any student to go unnoticed, or unseen. Meanwhile, secure messaging boards provide additional space for students to express their thoughts, problem-solve, and seek peer or teacher support, while staff devote time to forming dependable bonds with students and their families. “It’s all brilliant training for what’s to come at university and beyond: a carefully curated mix of one-to-one engagements, collective debates and expression, plus quiet time for students to progress through their coursework at a comfortable pace,” says Vigneron.

Looking ahead

Vigneron believes that online schools have the power to match this fast-paced world of international living and rapidly expanding social networks that span borders, oceans and time zones. “From Singapore to Scotland and from Dubai to Delhi, a carefully curated online school programme will bring a cohort of young learners close together, setting them up for a future of cross-country friendships that lacks just one thing — limits.”


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