Technology can have unmatched benefits in schools, and that’s not a new discovery. In fact, research on how computer-based learning can boost motivation, engagement, and even academic success dates back to the 70s.
It’s something we know well at King’s InterHigh, the original online school where more than 10,000 students have passed through our virtual doors over the past 17 years.
True online schooling is nothing like the remote learning of the pandemic. We bring together expert teachers, proven learning methods, and a vibrant community for a full school experience that revolves around each student.
The advantages are often most evident during the exam years, where online learning empowers students to achieve the best results they can at GCSE, A Level, and IB. Read on to discover why the online school experience could be what your child needs to get the best possible grades in preparation for top universities and careers.
1. Interactive learning boosts focus
If your teenager is like most, they’ve probably had trouble paying attention in class more than once. It’s not laziness or carelessness — teens just have particularly high brain activity, according to neuroscience experts at UCL.
That’s why school needs to engage the young brain and turn that activity into learning. If students can’t focus, they’ll be left with significant knowledge gaps when exams roll around.
A traditional school setting, where rows of pupil desks face a teacher, is often oriented around passive listening rather than active learning. However, interaction is one of the best ways to keep students engaged, and digital classrooms are designed with this in mind.
Interactive and collaborative teaching methods are built into online school lessons at King’s InterHigh. Polls and quizzes, for example, encourage students to stay focused now if they want to get the answers right later. Since learners can answer surveys and get their quiz scores at the touch of a button, these activities are far more seamless in a virtual classroom than time-consuming papers that need to be marked.
With the edtech industry booming, there are also more educational apps and tools than ever that can capture students’ attention. Take the language learning software ImmerseMe, for example. Conversation is one of the best ways to become fluent, but how often do students get to partner with a native speaker in the traditional classroom? Through ImmerseMe’s 3,000 video-based scenarios, learners can practice real world language interactions like ordering a baguette in Paris (with real-time feedback on pronunciation, vocabulary, and more).
2. VR immersion drives deeper understanding
While virtual reality isn’t part of every online school, it’s one of the latest proven tools in use at King’s InterHigh.
Our Learning Development Programme champions have pioneered extensive research into VR, and results show that curriculum-aligned virtual reality experiences have profound educational benefits. This immersive learning enhances traditional teaching approaches, bringing students a rich understanding that will help them argue their points in exams.
That’s why students at King’s InterHigh, studying the world’s first online IB Diploma, will regularly don VR headsets to explore their subjects in depth.
In IBDP History, for example, students may learn more about life under the German Reich by visiting Anne Frank’s annex, without actually leaving their desks. Our research found that this specific immersive experience gave students a far deeper understanding of how to contextualise events through written evidence like diaries. In turn, a student can then put this knowledge to use in their examinations.
The applications of virtual reality in education are nearly endless. With online learning, students can go inside a heart to understand how it really works or examine a world-famous painting up close to see the techniques and feel the emotion behind it.
3. Dashboards track all progress
If you’ve felt frustrated trying to keep up with your child’s school performance, you’re not alone. When students are struggling, termly reports can hit parents like a ton of bricks, and it’s hard to make up for months of lost progress in the all-important GCSE, A Level, and IB years.
To keep pupils on track with reaching and exceeding their target grades, problems with progress need to be addressed immediately. In a virtual setting, progress tracking becomes automatic, making it possible to see how students are doing on a week-by-week basis. At King’s InterHigh, teachers, parents, and students can view all assignment and test grades through an online dashboard.
When teachers can track every individual’s progress with ease, they’re able to offer a more personalised form of education. They can identify students who need more support before they fall behind as well as those who should be challenged to reach for even higher exam targets.
4. Lesson recordings improve revision
Lesson recordings are a highly useful tool for exam revision. Flash cards, mind maps, and other common study methods are great for brushing up on familiar themes, but sometimes what you really need is to go back and re-learn a forgotten topic.
At King’s InterHigh, students get round-the-clock access to recordings of every single class from the year. Forgotten an important formula for GCSE Chemistry or a key date in A Level History? There’s no need to scour the internet for a comprehensive resource — students can simply go back and listen to their teacher’s explanation again.
5. Flexibility supports student wellbeing
Mental wellness is crucial for teens, especially during the exam years. Unfortunately, this is the time when many struggle the most. According to Childline, counselling sessions for exam anxiety have skyrocketed 62% in the past year, with students reporting mood changes, trouble sleeping and eating, and more.
Of course, this soon creates a worrying cycle. When teens are struggling with low wellbeing, they’re more likely to do poorly in school, which only puts further pressure on their mental health.
There are many ways to tackle this crisis, both in physical and online schools. At King’s InterHigh, we offer traditional pastoral support, including group and one-to-one wellbeing sessions. On top of this, one of the biggest ways we’re able to support our students is with a level of flexibility that simply isn’t possible in most mainstream settings.
Virtual schools have a far greater ability to be student-centred. Flexible timetables give learners more time for interests that make them happy (like sports or arts, for example). More freedom in subject choices means pupils can choose to study the topics they love and excel at, rather than disliked subjects that demotivate and stress them. Lesson recordings are incredibly valuable too, giving students the chance to take a mental health day when they need to and still catch up on learning tomorrow. Learning at your own pace alleviates the need to work obsessively and provides more time to focus on wellbeing without sacrificing grades.
6. International community broadens perspectives
Last but not least, virtual learning environments can span continents, creating unmatched opportunities for students to broaden their perspectives.
The benefits of studying abroad are well documented. According to surveys from the Institute for the International Education of Students, a whopping 98% of students who studied abroad said the experience helped them to better understand their own cultural values and biases. 95% stated it had a lasting impact on their world view, and 89% reported a greater tolerance for ambiguity.
All these skills have knock-on benefits for academic performance and university-readiness, but they’re especially useful for International Baccalaureate students. As the qualification’s name suggests, international thinking is incredibly important when studying the IB Diploma, as each subject is informed by real life situations all around the world.
Online learning offers similar benefits to studying abroad, without having to leave the country. The King’s InterHigh student community, for example, spans more than 110 countries. Together, classmates enhance their learning by sharing their unique cultural and environmental perspectives. These rich insights then help students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in exams, helping them score them top marks.
The benefits will stay with them long after they graduate from school too. Emily Tomlinson, Director of Admissions at the University of Cambridge (Christ’s College), notes that IB students are particularly well prepared for top institutions because of their global perspectives.
King’s InterHigh is the leading UK online school from Primary to Sixth Form, including GCSEs, A Levels, and the world’s first online IB Diploma Programme. Enrolling now; visit the website for more information or join a virtual open event.