Author: Anne Keeling, Pamoja Education

Pre-University Online Learning Experience Positively Influences Higher Education Study Skills

A research study by the Institute of Education has explored the impact of online learning on 16 to 19 year olds and its influence on their learning experience at university.

Many people think of online learning as MOOCs and a tool for adult learning, but an increasing number of high school students are now studying some of their subjects online - with an online teacher and alongside classmates from around the world.

The Institute of Education University of London (IOE) researched students who are now at university, some of who participated in online learning during their time in school. 108 university students aged between 17 and 23 were surveyed and involved students from 36 different countries. 58 of those researched had studied at least one two-year subject online as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), delivered by UK-based Pamoja Education.

Pre-University Online Learning Experience Positively Influences Higher Education Study Skills

Of all 108 students surveyed, 78% said they considered it important in university to be able to plan and coordinate group tasks using online tools such as calendars, scheduling tools and discussion applications. 94% said having the ability to find academic resources online is valuable. 78% of all students who responded said that at university they try to solve learning problems by themselves. And 84% said it is definitely important to be able to set goals to help manage studying time for their university course.

Those students surveyed who had participated in online learning at school said that they had gained proficiency  in a range of online learning tools that they were  now using as part of their university working practice. They said that the online learning experience had helped them develop confidence in using technology to source information and that they  were more likely to carry out their research online. Students believed studying online had helped them to become independent learners able to manage their own time. They felt that in comparison with other students they were less likely to need to turn to their university lecturers for practical help. IBDP online students who were interviewed by an IOE researcher commented that learning to study online had come with its own set of challenges, but that developing their skills within the supported environment of their school had been a beneficial experience that was now effectively helping their university study.

Pre-University Online Learning Experience Positively Influences Higher Education Study Skills

One student said, “Studying online is different from attending regular classes. You have to be self-motivated to study on your own and set your own deadlines. Personally, I learned a lot from taking an online course because it helped me prepare myself in terms of scheduling and allocating time.”

Another said, “I had to be independent and in charge of my own learning so this has helped me be able to work this way.”

Ed Lawless, Principal of Pamoja Education, says, “The research suggests there is a shift from school learning to university study, and that a good online learning experience helps students to prepare for that shift. It helps them to develop the ability to work with a whole range of online media, and to develop an awareness of managing their personal progress which university students recognise as an essential part of their study requirement.”

Teachers who were interviewed spoke about the importance of providing a supportive learning environment for school age online learners. Several teachers suggested that online learning provided students with a safe environment that allowed them to take risks, make mistakes and learn from their experiences and this had better prepared them for university.

Pamoja Education is a social enterprise working in cooperation with the International Baccalaureate (IB) as the only provider of online IBDP courses for students aged 16-19. It has been delivering online IBDP subject learning to students around the world since 2009.
The Institute of Education is a world-leading university specializing in education and the social sciences. Founded in 1902, the Institute currently has more than 7,000 students and 800 staff. In the 2014 QS World University Rankings, the Institute was ranked number one for education worldwide. It has been shortlisted in the "University of the Year" category of the 2014 Times Higher Education (THE) awards. In January 2014, the Institute was recognized by Ofsted for its “outstanding" initial teacher training across primary, secondary and further education.  In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise two-thirds of the publications that the IOE submitted were judged to be internationally significant and over a third were judged to be 'world leading'.