If you are interested in academic remediation, enrichment, or test prep for your child, you may be considering online after-school programs as a potential option. Such programs boast improved student grades or testing scores, but are they a good fit for your child? This article will dive into the pros and cons of virtual after-school programs so that you can see the full picture from the perspective of educators!
Advantages of Online Learning
Selecting online after-school programs over in-person tutoring or supplemental instruction programs provides parents and students with several benefits unique to virtual learning. Before we get into those, though, let’s look at two big non-academic advantages to online after-school programs.
First, online learning is a noticeably more environmentally friendly move. If you worry about your carbon footprint, online learning eliminates the emissions and pollution of transporting your student to and from an in-person learning center (it saves gas money, too!) and reduces plastic and food waste from snacks or meals that are often provided by learning institutions.
Second, as highlighted by the pandemic, virtual learning is safer. Even with COVID-19 on the wane, it’s smart to reduce the opportunities your child has to bring home an illness like the flu or a stomach bug while retaining the benefits of after-school instruction. Similarly, if your child is feeling under the weather but still has the energy to learn, they don’t have to miss a session!
The Accessibility of Virtual Learning
One of the clearest benefits to online after-school programs: a self-paced virtual learning environment can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere around the world. Whether your student is staying home from school due to illness, on a school break and in need of practice, or on a trip, they can get in a few hours of study and practice to refine their skills and keep their mind sharp.
Moreover, online after-school programs offer more accessibility for students to learn with high-quality lessons and practice. As we discuss below, with the help of AI-driven features, students can solely target their weakest areas or cover a little bit of everything. Rather than having to stick to a specific lesson plan during school hours or in-person after-school programs, students are given the agency to make decisions on what’s best for their learning journey.
Guided by AI, students’ in-school performance, and parents’ recommendations, remote learning programs (like Piqosity’s) not only help students stick to what they need to practice and what they’re motivated to learn, but teaches them how to assign themselves work and be accountable for their own success—skills that are crucial in college and beyond.
Bonus Tip: Maximize Success by Setting Goals
We recommend goal-setting at the beginning of any online course. Have your child ask themselves: what subject do I struggle with? What subject is my favorite/the easiest? What test should I be preparing for? What score do I want? Focusing on weak areas and aiming for clear, achievable goals are crucial steps in helping your student shape their learning to reach their dreams.
Other Unique Features of Remote Learning
Online learning programs have a variety of unique features that enhance students’ learning experience, whether they’re struggling in school, looking to refine their skills further, or prepping for a standardized test like the ISEE, SAT, or ACT.
Virtual learning software continues to improve with technological advancements—the use of artificial intelligence to enhance learning is a groundbreaking development! For instance, Piqosity’s beloved mascot, Patrick the Corgi Pup, has recently been promoted to a new role as the Piqosity Virtual Tutor! Patrick the PVT asks students for their goals and their timeline to reach them, then guides them as they work through instructional material to help them achieve the best results they can.
Another exciting feature of programs like Piqosity’s is adaptive practice, a quiz mode that intelligently selects questions based on students’ experience with different subtopics in a course—for example, if a student finds one subtopic to be a breeze but struggles with another, this mode will give them more practice with the subtopic they need more help in.
Finally, Piqosity recently rolled out dynamic difficulty for questions, in which questions are assigned on a spectrum of easy to difficult based on the performance of users. As a result, students are assigned questions based on their performance and the distribution of test prep questions, such as for the SAT, mimic the real tests more closely.
Other features only available virtually include timers for quizzes and reading passages, which students can use to stay on track for standardized test prep, thorough answer explanations for every single question they answer, and a variety of perspectives integrated into lessons, as e-learning programs like Piqosity use extensive teams of writers to explain concepts in a memorable way.
Disadvantages of Selecting After-School Learning Programs Online
Of course, no issue is black and white: in certain circumstances, there are drawbacks to online after-school programs. All of the potential disadvantages to remote learning programs share a central consequence if the program is ineffective: costs.
The Dilemma of Self-Paced Learning
One of the greatest challenges of after-school online instruction is managing your child’s self-paced learning, which is why we’ve included it as a disadvantage. This issue is heavily dependent on your child: Are they able to focus without an instructor present? Can they finish their assignments on time without procrastinating? If you answered “no” to those questions, you may not be able to wholly rely on online learning programs; however, this does not mean that your child will never be able to learn online on their own.
Procrastination is not unique to remote learning: StudyMode findings from 2014 show that in a group of 1,300 high school students, 87% procrastinated, with 45% reporting that it negatively impacted their academic performance. Online learning has far fewer barriers to procrastination, as there are no teachers or fellow students encouraging students to complete lessons or assignments in a timely manner; too, there are often no strict deadlines in online learning.
How can you keep your student from procrastinating self-paced online learning? Encourage them to care about their education. Ideas for how to motivate students include rewarding them for completing a certain amount of lessons or scoring within a certain threshold on an online test, helping them find their dream college and working together to make a plan for acceptance, or even granting them certain privileges if they work on an online course consistently.
Many online after school programs also offer incentives to help motivate students. For example, Piqosity has a leaderboard for each of its courses (in which students from around the country can compete in their efforts towards the course) as well as gamified modes for all courses and additional blog content that keep kids engaged while supplementing their learning.
Procrastination and focus are concerning if you’d struggle to afford a course, but your student can practice and learn time management skills with the help of online courses. All-in-all – e-learning programs can help teach your child time management skills along with supplementing their in-school needs, but they still aren’t for everyone.
Though many online after school programs aim to be affordable (Piqosity included, starting with our many FREE options, and at just $49 for full SAT and ACT test prep packages), they may be a stretch for many families’ budgets. As described above, self-paced learning is not for everyone —there is no guarantee that online after-school courses will help your child’s grades. Then again, the same can be said for in-person classes!
Another pitfall of virtual after-school programs is that a computer or tablet is required. Many households do not have an extra device on hand for the student at any time. A related concern is that a device cannot supervise your child, and children under a certain age must still be supervised while working on online courses. Many families with busy caregivers may not find digital supplemental instruction to be adequate for their lifestyle and routines.
Finally, some students just may not be able to learn adequately in a totally virtual and self-paced environment. Everyone has their own learning style, and some students may learn best when engaged in active discussion with their instructor(s) or peers. While e-learning sites like Piqosity invest into visual, textual, audio, and practice-based instruction, they cannot fully replace the human connections many students require in their learning process.
So, Are After-School Programs Effective?
Online learning provides a multitude of benefits and is the perfect way to study for a variety of students and grade levels. It could be the answer to how to help a teenager struggling in high school. Whether they’re overwhelmed by SAT/ACT prep, college admissions, or just staying on top of their grades, many teens find e-learning programs to be a great way to get a quick study session in between other responsibilities or while relaxing after a long day.
Middle school students beginning to struggle with math or finding it difficult to focus on reading can find the extra practice crucial to the efficiency of their education on certain concepts. Virtual learning is an accessible way to stay on track, get ahead of the curve, or solidify students’ knowledge.
The bottom line? While remote learning can never fully replace in-class instruction, after-school online programs can offer a valuable and effective complement to a student’s classroom experience.
Online After-School Learning with Piqosity
As mentioned above, Piqosity has a plethora of resources that can help your child excel. If you’re leaning towards choosing supplemental e-learning over in-person, following are the resources Piqosity is prepared to welcome you with!
Joining Piqosity is completely FREE (no credit card information required, no sneaky “free” trials). Start off with our mini diagnostic test to get a baseline score, and set realistic goals for your student’s success.
Then, figure out a plan for exactly how you’d like to study. You can continue to use many of Piqosity’s unique features and valuable resources as part of our FREE Community package. But, if you’re ready for the next step, you can choose among several competitively-priced test prep or course-based packages. We currently offer:
Online Math Enrichment Courses
Online ELA Enrichment Courses
Online Test Prep Courses
When you sign up for Piqosity, you have access to our materials for 365 days. So, no matter how many times your student takes a test (such as the SAT) or how long they struggle in a specific class, you will have the resources of Piqosity on your side. If you believe the benefits of virtual learning are worth our one-time costs, don’t hesitate and help get your child on track today!
More Educational Resources by Piqosity: