Amplifying Student Voice: How GOA’s First Student Advisory Council is Making an Impact

In July of 2021, GOA launched a pilot initiative to center students at the heart of our organization, to influence and inspire organizational decisions and direction. The GOA student advisory council is a group of student leaders who are helping to guide the vision of GOA for its students.

Through this effort, we hoped to amplify student voice and perspective across GOA’s strategic initiatives, provide opportunities for students to build leadership experience across operational strategy, user experience design, content creation, and communications, and invite students into the decision-making processes as partners of the organization.

We proudly welcomed 26 students from 8 US states and 5 countries to serve on the inaugural council and kicked off our work with a virtual orientation so council members could learn about the work they would be doing and meet their advisors. Council members elected to work across one of the five teams aligned with our organizational structure – Design Lab, Equity, Operations, Student Program, or Professional Learning.

Three Photos Portraying Three GOA Advisory Council Members

Advisory Council Members Emily, Adib, and Amia show off the GOA swag shared at the beginning of the school year.

Over the past several months, students have engaged in projects ranging from equity-focused work to usability audits to teacher empathy interviews. Take a closer look at what our advisory council members have been up to.

Student Program

The Student Program team collected and analyzed course catalog information for over 110 of our member schools. The team discussed the possibility of GOA offering an American Sign Language course, creating offerings in humanities, and creating history courses that due justice for historically underrepresented groups.

This valuable, never before collected information allows GOA to better understand what passion-filled courses we should offer in the future for our students.


The Equity team defined equity in an exercise that invited them to open up about their own experiences with equitable learning environments and look for inequities within their own spaces. These brave and necessary conversations will allow the Equity team to begin looking for ways to make GOA more inclusive and equitable for learners around the world.

Design Lab

The Design Lab team engaged in a course design usability audit, evaluating 10 courses from our Student Program. We have already been able to leverage some of the user-centered feedback from this process and make data-informed decisions in our current redesign of three courses.

Professional Learning

The Professional Learning team audited professional learning course offerings, as well as spent time conducting teacher empathy interviews. These insights are directly informing not only the content of our upcoming professional learning opportunities but also how GOA designs those experiences. In particular, we're thinking a lot about how to design for connection in these online course spaces and also how to account for the fact that teachers have many demands on their time.


The Operations team conducted user experience observations and applied design thinking principles while evaluating the usability of some of our systems here at GOA. The student input gleaned helpful insights to inform future operational work.

What Students Have Been Doing Outside of Their Work with GOA

While the focus of the advisory council experience is project-based, we do make room for fun! To round out this calendar year, we put a call out to our students to share their “Best of 2021”– compiling a list of favorite picks, memories, and more.

Check out a selection of responses below – there is so much to celebrate with this engaging group of students!

Best School Project

  • Writing a script for a podcast

  • Making a TikTok entirely in Spanish for my AP Spanish class

  • Conducting a family history Interview

  • Creating a podcast discussing the holocaust and WW2 for my history class

  • Advocating and fundraising for local women’s shelter

  • Advocating against and fundraising for violence against women

  • Finishing a business project

Best Lesson Learned

  • If you don't think you're working hard enough, then work harder

  • Enjoy the relaxing days when you have them and don't feel pressured to fill them with activities; sometimes just relaxing is more beneficial.

  • Never give up!

  • I cannot wait for happy moments to come to me but instead, have to put in the effort to find things that will make me happy

  • Sometimes life gets tough, and it’s okay to make mistakes

  • The world is unpredictable

  • Choose the harder right!

  • Interest rates and foreign exchange in my Business class

Best Accomplishment

  • Having a decent score on my standardized testing

  • Learning how to surf!

  • Being selected for a sports training camp

  • I won a national award a few months ago: the Young Achievers' Award

  • Persevering during covid and not losing hope!

  • I’ve read 47 books so far this year

  • Iberian Model United Nations Award

Looking Ahead

Students will continue to engage with project teams in the new year during Semester 2. Some will continue work from this term – like the Professional Learning team, who will produce a proposal for a professional learning experience targeted to teachers – while others will kickoff new initiatives – like the Design Lab team, who will contribute to and participate in field research and focus group studies to surface insights related to inclusivity in online learning. The Student Program team will be starting a new project running student focus groups to strengthen the GOA experience. We hope that our 26 advisory council members conclude this experience in May feeling connected to a global network of peers and with a number of new, transferable skills that will serve them in their continued studies and future careers.

We cannot wait to continue learning from our students in 2022 and beyond! Want to get involved with GOA's Student Program? Our summer courses are open to all students. Member schools have full access to our student course catalog as well as a suite of other benefits. Learn more about becoming a member school.

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