Pre-university Online Learning Experience Positively Influences Higher Education Study Skills Says New Research

Pre-university online learning experience positively influences higher education study skills says new research

New research says online learning prepares 16-19 year olds well for university

A research study by the Institute of Education, University of London (IOE), England has explored the impact of online learning on 16-19 year olds and its influence on their learning experience at university.

The study was conducted between February and July 2014 and involved a literature review, a self-report survey with university students, interviews between an IOE researcher and university students, and interviews between an IOE researcher and online teachers.

The results, published in November 2014, were based on the responses of 108 university students aged between 17 and 23 from 36 countries (primarily the US, UK and India). 58 of those surveyed had studied at least one two-year subject online as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), delivered by UK-based Pamoja Education.

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.

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 recognize 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

An overview of the IOE research is available here

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