A school should be a community. It should be a place where students can go to feel empowered, intellectually stimulated and supported. It should be a place to share your hopes and aspirations for the future, and then see that future slowly come together as you progress through your studies. It should be a place to share knowledge (and a few jokes) with peers, receive sage advice from advisors, work through problems and develop solutions.
But it doesn’t need to be a “place” at all – at least not in the physical sense of the word. At Ontario eSecondary School, we’ve built a thriving educational community without a single, fixed address – an online network of educators, experts, students, parents and peers all pulling toward shared academic success.
In this article, we take a few moments to reflect on what we’ve built here at OES. Join us below as we discuss our academic model, the benefits of online learning, the winning staff we’ve assembled, and more. If you’re a student (or parent) considering switching to online education – or a current OES student in the mood for school pride – this is the article for you!
The Model of Academic Excellence
To become the model of academic excellence, you have to start with an excellent academic model. Sure, that sounds like a tongue twister – but it’s true. A school’s academic model dictates its approaches to student development, its philosophies on student ability, and the framework it establishes to ensure student success. If a school’s educational model is poorly sketched or outdated, students might not hit their highest potential.
OES’ academic model emphasizes self-paced learning, flexibility and accessibility. We believe it’s a model that ensures student empowerment and success. Here are a few key facets of our educational model to consider.
Self-Paced Asynchronous Learning
OES runs on a self-paced, asynchronous educational model. In everyday terms, that means our students complete their courses as quickly or slowly as they please. Rather than compete in classrooms dictated by a single, rigid pace, students at OES are free to take their time on challenging concepts. They can mull over the difficult Shakespeare units in online courses like ENG4U, or chew on hard theoretical ideas in Physics 12. Conversely, students who feel confident in the material can speed up their pace, and not feel held back or otherwise hampered by the rest of the class.
This self-paced, asynchronous model creates a community of students marching by the beat of their own drum – a student body comprised of learners who receive precisely the kind of education they need.
Flexible, Customizable Schedules
Part and parcel of our self-paced model is OES’ commitment to flexible scheduling. Because our courses are asynchronous (without a schedule, but within a generous timeframe), students feel liberated from the physical and time-based constraints of a brick-and-mortar classroom.
For instance, a student who’s passionate about archaeology can take a Wednesday off to catch the new ROM exhibit – no note required! As another example, a student with a demanding part-time job can allocate their study hours around their work hours to make everything fit. We believe this flexibility allows students to pursue educational and vocational opportunities outside the classroom, without worrying about how they affect one’s studies.
Engaging, Multimedia Content for All Learning Types
Lastly, to foster a community of students who feel accommodated and supported, we proudly feature engaging multimedia elements in our courses.
Every student is different. Every student thinks, acts and sees the world differently. Yet, for most of educational history, schools forced students to learn in black and white. They read written texts and wrote written tests.
Now, educational experts understand that students fall somewhere within the “VARK learning styles modalities.” Some feel more comfortable with visual learning; others are auditory learners; some do their best with reading/writing learning styles, and others are primarily kinesthetic learners. To accommodate each of these styles, OES presents its courses through diverse materials, including texts, videos, interactive assignments, audio components and more.
Online education is already the more accessible option because students can complete their courses from the security and amenities of their own homes. OES takes accessibility a step further by ensuring that students of all learning styles receive an equitable, quality education.
A Digital Community in a Digital World
One of the ways we build a thriving learning community is by understanding what “success” means in the modern world. Workplaces and interpersonal relationship dynamics are rapidly changing as the world moves further into the digital age. Students need an educational environment that matches those changes – one that prepares students for the world of tomorrow.
Here’s how OES is changing the future of education by nurturing a digital community for a digital world.
Preparing for Success in Tomorrow’s Workplace
As we’ve mentioned previously on this blog, workplaces look a lot different today than when we (or the parents reading this) were going through school. Back then, schools taught you the analog ways of doing things – writing cursive, completing administrative tasks on paper, submitting hand-written projects, etc. It made sense back then.
But when schools expect that same analog approach from students today, it makes less sense. By contrast, our online approach prepares students for the realities of modern professionalism. In communicating with their teachers, they learn best practices surrounding online communication. In working with peers on shared online projects, they learn how to be part of a digital team. And by learning with multimedia elements (see above), students feel better prepared for the versatile, “plugged-in” workplaces they will likely encounter in their professional lives.
Soft Skills, Digital Proficiencies and Ethics
School isn’t just vocational training. It’s about much more than readying students for their part in the workforce. At its best, school should encourage young, burgeoning minds to become thoughtful, kind and conscientious adults. And it should teach them certain “soft” skills that benefit their future relationships – with others, with the media, with the world as a whole, and with themselves.
OES takes these skills seriously. Our self-paced learning model encourages valuable soft skills like self-motivation and time management. Our engaging course materials nurture tendencies like curiosity and confidence. And our tireless staff of educators ensures that OES’ students learn essential critical thinking and media literacy skills.
It’s the textbook definition of a “rounded education,” offering this community of students the tools they need for success – whatever success looks like to them!
Powered by People
Yes, our founding academic model plays a significant role in our student’s success, making it a convenient way to earn high school credits. And it’s true, you can’t discount the impact of our digital approach in shaping a successful student community. But we’re missing something – something big.
To understand how OES builds a successful online learning community, you have to look at the people. Our dedicated roster of knowledgeable teachers. Our savvy support staff. Our administrators, behind-the-scenes-all-stars and always-available tutors. We all join together to make OES the stellar school it is.
Teachers are the backbone of a school. With a staff of highly motivated, dedicated teachers, you can pretty much take on the world.
We know we have an excellent teaching staff because of the successful students that leave our digital doors. But even without looking through OES’ impressive transcripts, we know we have a great teaching staff because… well, people tell us as much.
We routinely hear testimonials from students and parents thanking our teachers for their involvement and engagement. “His teacher… was more engaged than many of his previous in-person teachers. Thank you!!!” writes one parent. “My teacher was very great as he was easily accessible, had very fast response times, and was extremely friendly,” writes another student. And another student writes of their experience re-taking grade 11 courses, “Amazing school experience where the teachers are there to help facilitate learning and excellence.”
The list of testimonials goes on and on. You can read them yourself on our “High school students admission info” page.
A Winning Support Staff
Sometimes, high school can feel aimless, like we’re barreling toward an inevitable graduation without fully understanding what we want to become or how we achieve our goals.
That sense of questioning and uncertainty is a normal part of secondary education. Parents reading this might remember going through something similar (all those years ago!). And many parents might also cite the kind, instructive influence of a guidance counsellor or educational planning expert in getting through it.
At OES, we continue the tradition of knowledgeable, compassionate guidance counselling. Students are welcome (nee, encouraged) to book a guidance meeting with one of our educational experts. During a guidance meeting, students will discuss career options, academic ambitions, goal setting/achievement and more. Hopefully, students will leave these meetings feeling more connected to their studies, more confident about the future, and all-around more empowered.
If you have questions about transcript logistics or accreditation at OES, you can find information listed on our website, or visit the link provided directly above.
When we tell incoming students that they can take advantage of round-the-clock tutoring opportunities, many seem skeptical at first. “When you say 24/7, surely you don’t mean 24/7,” some say. “What’s the catch?” ask others. And some students just ponder the prospect incredulously: “So, you’re telling me that I can receive quality tutoring at 3 AM on a random Tuesday?”
It’s true. When we say 24/7 tutoring, we mean exactly that. Because OES operates on a self-paced model, we understand that some students keep odd study hours. Some learners think their best in the wee hours of the morning. Others clear their weekends for schoolwork. And some learners hit a hot streak (no pun intended) during the summer months. For all these so-called unconventional hours when you can’t reach your teacher for guidance, you should have an academic lifeline.
It’s just one more way that OES builds a successful online learning community. No student should fail simply because they couldn’t access help. Every student should have ample opportunities to learn the material, bounce questions off an informed instructor, and work through their academic problems in a safe, accessible environment.
A funny thing happens when you give high school students endless opportunities to learn: They end up learning more!
Resources Like This One
There’s one last, modest way that OES fosters a supportive, successful school experience. We’re dedicated to offering students informative resources – like this one.
There are several scholastically-related topics that aren’t covered in course materials. Subjects like “How to practice effective time management,” “How to craft a study-life balance,” “How to mitigate stress during exam season,” and “How to write an undeniable university admissions essay.” On the OES blog, you’ll find detailed explorations of these subjects and more. We encourage new and experienced students to flip through our back catalogue of blog posts to find practical, applicable topics.
With our terrific teaching staff, amazing academic guidance experts, tireless tutors and broad blog resources, we think we’ve covered all the bases. Members of our online learning community have everything they need to succeed.
We don’t often spend an entire blog post talking about our values and accomplishments (we’re typically more modest on this blog, offering resources rather than self-promotion). But occasionally, we have to sing our own praises. According to students, parents and staff, OES has created something magical here – a supportive community centred on academic excellence and accessibility. And that’s certainly something worth celebrating!
If you have any more questions about how OES operates, how course credits work or what you can expect from one of our high school courses, please feel free to contact us. One of our staff members will be happy to chat. In the meantime, we wish all the students out there a happy return to school this September.