Even before the pandemic, a growing chorus of parents and students were voicing their preference for e-learning. In light of the past year’s events, that number continues to grow. But there’s still some mystery surrounding online schools.
Whether you’re new to the province or simply new to the idea of online schooling, you may have a long list of questions that need answering. How exactly does e-learning work? Why do some parents (and students) prefer online school over traditional classrooms? And, crucially, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff – what differentiates a quality online high school from an average one?
If you’re considering enrolling your kid in online courses in Ontario but aren’t sure where to turn, read this quick and straightforward guide.
First, let’s answer the big question: Why online? Many parents have fond, albeit complicated, memories of being educated in a conventional classroom. How does e-learning improve upon that age-old model? Ask online students, teachers and parents, and they’ll probably cite these top three advantages:
- Flexibility: This is a major benefit for many students. Because online learning isn’t structured around set times in a day, it allows students to fit education within their preferred schedule. If they think the evening is a better time, they can do their coursework in the evening. If they need to structure education around work or extracurriculars, they are free to do so.
- Self-Paced Learning: With e-learning, students move at their own pace. They can exert more energy on concepts they find challenging and breeze through concepts that come naturally to them. In conventional classrooms, each student is expected to keep pace with the whole class. E-learning is more individualized, understanding that each learner is unique.
- Distraction-Free School: The pressures of fitting in, looking a certain way, keeping your books in order, socializing, etc. – parents remember these stresses well from their days in school. Some things don’t change. Online school removes these distractions and allows students to focus on what’s important: their education.
Now that you know why you might choose an online school let’s look at how to select one.
Criteria for the Ideal Online School
The criteria for choosing an online school are similar to that of a conventional school. In either case, you want a professional environment, good teachers and strong core principles. However, there are a few unique criteria to look for when deciding on an online high school in Ontario:
- Ministry of Education Accreditation and Inspection: This is critical! Make sure the online high school you choose is inspected and accredited by the Ontario Ministry of Education. And ensure that they offer Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) credit courses that count towards the OSSD.
- Access to Tutoring: The best online high schools in Ontario offer 24/7 access to online tutoring. As mentioned above, part of what’s great about e-learning is the flexible schedule. Your student might have questions while studying at night, and they should have access to help in that case.
- The School Itself Has Good Grades: Unlike conventional schools, it’s easy to look up reviews for online schools. Does the online school you’re considering have good grades itself? One of the most reliable benchmarks of quality is recommendations from past students and parents.
If you count yourself among the many Ontarians, who want to try online education for their kid, approach the change wisely. Find an accredited, professional, supportive and well-reviewed school.