Learning Pathways: A Deeper Learning Experience that Prepares Students for the Future

Half of GOA students enroll in multiple courses. Beginning last year, students who take three or more courses achieve a Learning Pathway Certification, which demonstrates a student’s depth of interest and expertise in a field of study, or a Global Learning Certification, which indicates a student has explored a variety of interdisciplinary courses and strives to be an informed global citizen.

These certifications are designed to empower students to take control of their learning and prepare for their future as they begin the college admissions process and career planning. “It came as a reward for my dedication and hard work,” says Emilija D., a grade 10 student from the American School of Warsaw who has earned a Global Learning certification. “I am very grateful for this certification, as I think it will be really helpful in showing some of my experiences in GOA and the skills that I was able to gain.”

We spoke to three GOA Student Ambassadors about their experiences with the Learning Pathways and Global Learning Certification program: Emilija; Louis M., grade 11 student from the International School of Kuala Lumpur who is working toward a Mathematics & Quantitative Reasoning Pathway; and Rick C., grade 12 student from The Episcopal Academy who has obtained a Global Learning Certification.

Exploring Interests to Determine Future

Emilija took a variety of GOA courses to explore her interests. “I knew immediately that I wanted to take Introduction to Legal Thinking and Introduction to Psychology,” she says. “I think they really helped me decide what I want to study in the future. … It helped me really get a taste of what some of the work in these fields might be like.”

Her initial interest in law deepened and led her to take two more GOA courses, Prisons & Criminal Justice Systems and International Relations. One assignment that left a lasting impression was a professional interview in her Legal Thinking course:

While his school has a robust CS program, Louis was looking to deepen his knowledge and learn more about the theory behind computer science: “I want to know a little more about the intricacies of computer science rather than just applying it,” he says. “It's kind of hard for high school students who are interested in more theoretical computer science to find opportunities right now.”

Because of his interest in the math behind computer science, Louis has taken Linear Algebra and Number Theory and is currently taking Multivariable Calculus to finish out his Mathematics & Quantitative Reasoning Pathway. “Being exposed to these topics through the certification has helped deepen my understanding of mathematics as a whole and has also helped with my future academic interests, like computer science,” he says. “As a result I might consider a combined major with Math when I go to college.”

Rick also explored a wide variety of interests through GOA and has received his Global Learning Certificate. In addition to having taken Genocide & Human Rights, Computer Science I: Computational Thinking, and Creative Nonfiction Writing, Rick is currently in his third year of Arabic Language Through Culture, which he considers to be an essential step on his journey to study international relations in college.

“I know how important current Middle East relations are,” he says. “I know that being able to speak Arabic and being able to converse — and also just understand the different ins and outs of the language — could be really helpful, whether it be to the government or to individual companies. So I thought that it was really important to learn Arabic.”

Real-World Skills Beyond School Curriculum

In his pathway journey, Rick highlighted two real-world skills that he’s developed: time management and conversing with peers that don't share your same location.

“Time management skills are always needed no matter what line of work you are involved in. Because of GOA's remote nature and its large asynchronous aspect, the courses have taught me how to schedule my workload appropriately to ensure that I have completed all necessary assignments,” he says. “With this new age of remote learning and remote working, being able to effectively work with those not physically in the same space is becoming more and more important. These GOA courses have taught me the skills needed to communicate properly.”

Louis agrees that managing your time is a critical skill that is developed while taking a GOA course. “People really need to stay on top of their schedule, and they need to let their teacher know if they need extensions before the due date,” he says. “I've associated GOA with the free slot that has been assigned to GOA for the school. Whenever I would go to Period 7, I would say, ‘Oh, period 7 is GOA. I still have this work I need to do for GOA.’ And that has helped me stay on track of my work.”

Louis credits his teachers with making it possible for students to learn beyond their course content:

Students also learn how to work with students from around the world. “Working with a wide variety of people has helped me see various different perspectives from my own. I believe I will be able to continue doing so in different contexts in my future with the skills I gained,” says Emilija.

“I've had numerous Zoom meetings where I will be talking to students from America and from Asia and from Europe like me,” she continues. “We had very different perspectives on some issues, and we learned very different content in our school. Like yesterday, I had a meeting for the international relations course and I talked to this girl from America. We were talking about how realism applies in international relations, and she was able to talk about conflicts that she learned about in school that were more about America, while I was able to talk about conflicts more about Europe that I learned in my school. I think being able to talk about different knowledge that we have and connect with people was very impactful.”

Rick agrees that making connections across the globe is important and advises GOA students to make as many friends as they can in their courses:

Using the Certification in Future Academic and Professional Plans

When a student earns a Pathway or Global Learning Certification, it is highlighted on their GOA transcript, which provides additional context and description of a student’s GOA experience. Students who earn a certification are further able to distinguish themselves and create opportunities for sharing their unique learning journey in the college admissions process.

Rick has used his certification on applications, specifically the Common App for applying for colleges, and listed under Awards for a few scholarship applications. While he’s still waiting on the results, he believes his certification will help his pursuits.

Emilija has also already used her certification on applications, specifically in her work with the Model UN. When applying for special positions such as a judge or advocate in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), she says, “I have numerous times now cited GOA as one of my qualifications. And having done that course, I've said that I'm more familiar with the structure, and I could apply the skills that I learned in GOA to that context. And I think it is one of the reasons that I have been able to go to more conferences and have been able to participate in roles that I'm very interested in.”

The skills Emilija has learned in her GOA courses have set her up for success now and into the future:

Louis also believes that he is set up well for the workforce because of his GOA courses. “I think jobs are shifting towards working from home with a lot more fully remote jobs available after Covid. And if we are able to work as an active and independent learner and also be able to communicate, that prepares you for the future work environment,” he says. “It gives you more agency and self-directedness with learning, which is very useful because when we go outside the classroom we would still want to be learning more stuff.”

A GOA student’s Learning Pathway or Global Learning Certification showcases their commitment:

“For me, I've been able to treat GOA as something fun, something I want to do, because it's not something that the school is forcing me to do,” says Emilija. “I'm able to explore topics that I am interested in. So when you think of it like that, I think it makes it much more enjoyable. And if you like reading for the content, listening to the videos that are provided … it doesn't feel too much like homework, rather something you want to do in your free time.”

GOA's course catalog empowers students to dive into a topic (or variety of topics) deeply and plan for the future. And having the freedom to take classes they’re passionate about and trying out different courses helps student discover what they enjoy and what they might want to continue to study.

“I’ve felt a great sense of accomplishment for taking on GOA in addition to what I learn in my school,” says Louis. “I'm really happy that I can work towards a certification while exploring my interests.”

For more, see:

This post is part of our Student Spotlight series, where we feature stories from students who take GOA courses. Are you a current or former GOA student who would like to contribute or be interviewed for a Student Spotlight article? Or, are you an educator who has a recommendation for a student for us to feature? Email us at hello@globalonlineacademy.org with the subject title “Student Spotlight.”

GOA serves students, teachers, and leaders and is comprised of member schools from around the world, including independent, international, charter, and public schools. Learn more about Becoming a Member. Our professional learning opportunities are open to any educator or school team. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. To stay up to date on GOA learning opportunities, sign up for our newsletter.

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