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Online learning has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years. From formal education such as A-levels and GCSEs to professional development opportunities and informal courses, the Internet has opened up educational opportunities and made advancement accessible to everyone.
It doesn’t matter where you live or what your other commitments are: with online learning, you can study from anywhere, and fit your study hours around your life. And the numbers don’t lie. More than 20 million new learners registered for online learning courses in 2021, according to the World Economic Forum.
But what many people don’t realise is that students can opt to study for their A-levels online, rather than in a college or school setting, and enjoy the same benefits as other online learners. Online learning is not restricted to later life learning or to professional development: it is open to anyone.
Online A-levels offer the same courses, with the same exam boards, as in-person A-levels. They have the same value and are equally accepted for entry to university, apprenticeships, or any other further education or career aspirations.
Online learners can devote more of their time to studying, as they don’t have to factor in additional time to travel to and from their school or college setting. What’s more, online learning reduces energy consumption by 90% compared to classroom learning, making it the more environmentally friendly choice.
Increasing numbers of students are choosing to study for their A-level courses online, rather than in a traditional college setting. The aim of this article is to break down the benefits of opting for this route:
Flexibility and Convenience
One of the main advantages of online A-level courses for students is the flexibility and convenience that they afford. Online A-level students primarily study from home, but they have the flexibility to study from any location. This is ideal if you want to juggle studying for your A-levels with full or part-time employment, as you can work on your course during breaks from work. Many young people know what they want to do with their lives, and would rather start on the career ladder than take time out to study. But online learning enables them to do both.
Some students are also combining their A-level studies with caring responsibilities: whether caring for a child, parent, or other friend or relative. There are over 800,000 young carers in the UK, and research has found that the more hours spent caring, the less likely people were to get a degree. Before the onset of online learning, young carers often abandoned their studies to focus on their caring role. However, now they are able to study around their other caring responsibilities.
Studying for online A-level courses is incredibly convenient. Not only can you work when and where you want, but you can also set your own pace. If you don’t have the time, or the inclination, to pursue full-time study then you don’t have to when you are learning online. You can work at your own pace and, because you’re not having to work in a classroom where the needs of everyone need to be met, you can work using your one learning style too.
Prefer to do a little bit of coursework every day? You can. Rather leave everything to the last minute and cram when you’re feeling focused? You could do that too. When you’re online learning you can set your own pace, and dictate the right learning style for you.
Wide Range of Subjects
Traditional colleges and schools are limited in the number of A-level subjects they can offer. This is because they need to have a physical teacher available to teach each subject and enough students to fill each classroom. This is why most schools and colleges will offer subjects like English and Maths because these are the most popular subjects, but fewer will offer subjects such as Chinese or Ancient Greek because there simply isn’t the demand to make running these courses financially viable.
If you live in a small town or village with a small local college, your options are likely to be even more restricted, because with fewer students fewer subjects will be offered.
By contrast, online platforms aren’t subject to these restrictions. They can offer subjects that are unusual and that may not be available in local schools or colleges. Online students can sign up for the same course from across the country, or even from across the world, so demand isn’t a concern. And your tutor can be based anywhere: it’s more important to work with a tutor that is a specialist in your chosen subject rather than just the one that is closest to you geographically.
There are many advantages to choosing subjects that align with your individual interests and career aspirations. Not only will this clearly demonstrate your commitment to studying these subjects and your chosen field, but it will also make you stand out from the crowd. In the sea of students studying French, be the student that studies Japanese. This will certainly support your application much more if your final aspiration is to study Asian History at university, for example.
Personalised Learning Experience
When you study for A-levels in a school or college environment, the pace of the course is determined by the needs of the majority. Because you are all studying simultaneously, the tutor needs everyone to work at the same pace. Of course, this isn’t always realistic. Some students study faster or slower than others. Some will need time to grasp one concept but fly through another.
When you study for online A-Level courses, you will have access to personalised learning experiences that are tailored to your individual needs. You can set your own pace and work in a way that suits you. If you work better with a group then there are online tools that will allow you to engage with your classmates. If you prefer to work alone then you can get your head down and get on with it. You will also have access to one-on-one support from your tutor when you need it, and access to all the additional resources you need will be available for you online.
If you’re finding a particular aspect of the course interesting, you don’t have to move on to the next topic with the rest of the class. You can focus on your specific areas of interest and create an educational environment that you enjoy and want to attend. Equally, if you realise there are gaps in your knowledge, you can take time out to go back and fill these at a time that best suits you.
Enhanced Technological Resources
The online world is changing incredibly rapidly. We are living in a period in which the greatest economic and technological progress is occurring. When distance learning first began, students were sent written lesson plans or lessons on videotape through the post. Now online A-level students have access to interactive multimedia, virtual labs, and simulations. The technological resources available are far greater than they have ever been before.
These resources are only enriching learning for online A-level students. Complex concepts can be made much more accessible with the right technology, which goes some way to explain why online A-level students have such a high pass rate in their final exams.
Online platforms encourage the use of technology to facilitate collaboration and engagement. One of the most common myths about online learning is that it can be lonely. And it is true that you may need to form friendships outside of your course to meet your social needs. But online learning is not lonely. You will be working alongside and engaging with your peers from all over the world. You will share interests and experiences with them, and each brings a different perspective to your chosen subjects that will only enhance your learning.
Greater Independence and Self-Discipline
For some students, in-person A-levels can feel like a very controlled and restrictive environment. You are told when to attend class, when to study, and when to learn. There is little room for independence, freedom of expression, or taking time out to enjoy the pleasure of learning something new. By contrast, online A-Level courses help to foster independence and self-discipline in students. Students are responsible for attending their own online classes, they can choose when and how they will study, and how long they will study for.
This does mean that it requires self-discipline to be a successful online learner. But you will also learn valuable life skills in time management, goal setting and maintaining motivation. These are important skills that conventional A-level students often don’t learn until they attend university or enter the world of work. In effect, online A-level students are being given a head start.
That doesn’t mean that online A-level students are left without support. If you are struggling to organise your work schedule or to find the self-discipline you need to complete your course successfully then there are course schedules and guidelines that you can follow. These will tell you when to complete each section of the coursework, and which element of the course to study next. This means that there is always a safety net in place for those students who need it, and no online A-level student is ever left behind.
Exam Preparation and Performance
Online A-Level courses will usually provide comprehensive exam preparation materials and practice resources for all their students. This means that you will be given the support that you need to revise for your final examinations once the course material is completed. This will help online A-level students to succeed in their final exams and create a revision and study framework that they can replicate throughout their academic careers.
The instantaneous nature of the online environment means that students will receive immediate feedback from their course leader, and they can use an online tool to track their progress throughout the course. In short, what all this means is that online learners are given the tools they need to be successful learners.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that almost all online learning colleges advertise at least a 90% A-level pass rate, with some online learning colleges demonstrating a 99% pass rate. Another study found that online A-Level students receive 20% higher grades and pass around 30% more quickly than in a traditional college. This is a testament to the value that online learning methods have. They really work!
Some people consider online A-levels to be a backup plan or an option for those who can’t attend college or school. But in reality, online A-levels should be considered a great first choice for anyone. They are convenient and give students the flexibility to set their own schedules around their other commitments. They open up a great range of subject choices, which could help students to stand out from the crowd on their UCAS applications or to better reach their career goals. They can be personalised to meet each student’s needs, and they provide students with a greater level of independence whilst also encouraging them to hone their discipline and study skills.
There is such a huge range of different online A-level subjects available from a wide range of providers, and students may find that they are drawn to subjects they hadn’t ever heard of or considered in a conventional college brochure. For this reason, it’s important for students to explore the possibilities of online learning and make informed decisions about their education. Don’t trap yourself in an in-person A-levels box until you’re sure that it’s the right box for you.
A-Level courses can empower students to achieve academic success and open doors to future opportunities. That’s why picking the right courses, and the right course provider, is so important. Why not consider what you could gain from choosing online A-level courses?