4 Features to Look for in An Online Learning Partner
By: VHS Learning
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools and students had their first experience with online learning. Schools pivoted quickly and valiantly, but most educators had never been trained to teach virtually, and online programs had never been set up at many schools.
Because of the academic impacts of the pandemic, many communities have been quick to blame online learning for students’ loss of instruction. It’s important to realize, however, that the emergency shift to remote instruction is not the same thing as high-quality online teaching and learning by design.
High-quality online learning programs benefit schools and students in many ways––with the primary benefit being increased school and student access to courses that schools are unable to offer in-person for a variety of reasons. Online learning also fosters educational equity and student independence and helps solve scheduling challenges. With this in mind, you may be ready to find an online learning partner for your school or district.
When selecting an online learning partner for your school, it’s important to consider these four important features:
- Asynchronous Model
With an asynchronous online classroom, students do not have to report to scheduled classes or lectures at a particular time. This allows students to complete their coursework at the time that works for them and their class schedule, providing students with the ultimate flexibility. Assignments and class discussions take place over time, enabling students to reflect on their work and create more thoughtful responses to their peers. While students may not be meeting face-to-face with their teachers and peers, student engagement and outcomes for online learning are still highly impacted by the relationships students develop within the course.
- Paced Coursework
Paced coursework guides students to move through course lessons, topics, and assignments following a specific timeline. Assignments must be completed by set deadlines and there are penalties for late work, but students still set their own schedule for working on coursework. This helps students build important time management skills and teaches them to pace themselves while still guiding them through the course with a set timeline and framework. Deadlines and due dates, and an established schedule of activities help students stay on track and progress forward.
- Teacher-Led Instruction
A high-quality online learning partner offers courses with a small student-teacher ratio so teachers can provide effective personalized support to each student. At VHS Learning, all of our educators are highly-qualified and certified, and each complete our proprietary graduate-level Online Teaching Methodologies course to learn best practices for online teaching and learning. Teachers should use proven strategies to foster an online learning community, and teachers and students should have consistent communication, including customized feedback and support.
- Cohort-Based Learning
Rather than learning alone, students in a high-quality online learning program will proceed through the course alongside a group of their peers, with an emphasis on group work and community building. This encourages regular interactions between peers, fostering collaboration and engagement, and ensuring that students don’t feel isolated as they complete the coursework. A global online learning partner like VHS Learning also offers the opportunity for connections with peers from different countries, cultures, and with different language backgrounds.
By mindfully selecting an online learning partner, schools can provide a wider range of learning opportunities, increase accessibility to courses and programs, solve scheduling conflicts, and boost student learning. VHS Learning partners with schools anywhere in the world to offer comprehensive, high-quality online courses for high school credit. One of the most important features of our program is our commitment to ensuring only highly-qualified, certified teachers lead VHS Learning courses.
Our success is evidenced by our 10-year history of VHS Learning students surpassing the national average pass rate on their Advanced Placement (AP)® exams. Our school partners demonstrate their satisfaction through their continued partnership, with 88% of partner schools renewing their partnerships into 2021-2022.
In selecting an online learning partner, it’s critical that you are choosing a high-quality program that can meet the needs of your school and students. To learn more about finding the right partner, read our playbook for educators: Choosing the Right Online Education Partner.