Do Students Get Better Marks Online?

Class Marks - Ms. Chau SNC1D1-B

Many people – students, parents, and teaching staff alike – believe that taking a course online is a sure-fire path to an “easy mark”. This idea is highly misleading and has become damaging to the overall perception of academic integrity within the field of e-learning. To help set the record straight, we break down some of the real reasons we believe our students often achieve higher grades in our online courses – hint: it’s not because they’re easier!

At OVS, we hold ourselves to the same standards of integrity as we do any traditional day school. These high standards mean that all of our instructors are in good standing with the Ontario College of Teachers and are available to respond to student’s questions on a daily, one-on-one basis via email. What’s more, the course content and evaluations we use in our online platform are much the same as those students are expected to work through at their day schools. We also require every student completing a course through our platform to write their final exam in-person with approved supervision.

As a result of these measures taken to ensure the quality of education we provide, we are proud to be fully accredited by the Ontario Ministry of Education to grant OSSD credits. In fact, credits completed through us are viewed by post-secondary institutions equally to those completed through traditional day schools, with hundreds of students moving on to post-secondary using one or more credits earned through us.

So, if all these factors are logistically the same, why do students tend to achieve greater success in online courses, as compared to their achievement in traditional day school classes? Well, there are a number of factors, all of which we believe work together to produce the improved results we typically see.

Self-paced learning – The major difference with our courses is that we do not impose deadlines on students for when they have to complete their coursework – all the learning is done at the student’s own pace through our virtual environment. This added flexibility is particularly beneficial for students with special needs (accessibility issues, developmental delays, injury-related accommodations, etc.), as we are better able to accommodate these needs throughout the entire course, rather than just at points of assessment. With self-paced learning, there is also no pressure to go along with the pace of the group. You can zip through lessons if you find their content easy or familiar, or take your time if you find it challenging or complex. With OVS, you have the freedom to choose how little or how long you spend in any of our courses!

Flexible hours – Unlike traditional classroom settings, online learning allows students to tailor their study hours to fit their specific schedule – even if that schedule changes from week-to-week! Many of our students are highly involved in extracurriculars, with some even pursuing professional sporting or acting careers; whiles others have full-time jobs and families to tend to. In these cases, traditional day schools simply cannot provide the same level of instruction to these students as they can to their less over-extended peers who are able to attend classes for several hours a day, every day. What’s more, with our self-paced model, students who study better at different times of the day are able to optimize their learning schedules – without the need to wait for the debate surrounding school start times to be resolved!

Reduced stress – By allowing students to review lessons as many times as they need, including the ability to pause and rewind the instructor as often as they like, students are able to work through course content at their own pace. This eliminates the classroom anxiety often felt when a teacher “changes the slide too fast” and you’re the only one who didn’t finish copying all the information down, but you’re too shy to ask them to go back. Similarly, taking tests only when you feel fully prepared allows you to be in control of your own success. Many students who suffer from test anxiety also find it less stressful to write tests on their own and in a location where they feel comfortable, two features standard to every evaluation in an online course.

Removal of Social Anxiety – Let’s face it, the social environment of traditional schools can be extremely distracting, even taxing, on the young and impressionable minds of teenagers. Online schooling removes the immediate anxiety and distraction of social pressures within the classroom, allowing students to focus more intently on their schooling. It also allows them to reach out for additional help, without fear of reproach or teasing from eavesdropping peers. And, for those students with existing social anxieties that discourage or prevent them from actively participating in traditional classroom environments, there is no 5-15% penalty to their overall grade when they fail to volunteer responses in group settings.

Accelerated Completion Always an Option – For gifted students who can often find traditional classrooms to be under-stimulated, online courses encourage them to stay motivated and productive. With our courses, although the content itself is still taught at a standardized level, students are able to progress through the course at any speed they choose, unaffected by the pace of their peers or by predetermined and generously spaced deadlines. If they choose, students have the option to complete a course in as little as 4 weeks, and can choose to begin the next grade level immediately afterwards. Thus, for dedicated and capable students, early graduation becomes entirely doable through online schooling.

So, if you are trying to determine whether you’re going to be able to earn the grades you want by taking a course online, the truthful answer is: it’s up to you! At the end of the day (or at the start), online courses are not “easier”, they’re simply different. To excel online, you will need to rethink your study strategy – or perhaps develop one altogether! But, if you are disciplined, driven, and willing to ask for help when you need it, self-paced learning may very well be the answer to all your GPA woes!