Preparing for our Future by Reflecting on the Past

Like many schools and learning organizations, the GOA team is reflecting on the past 18 months, and thinking about the long-term opportunities being presented within the field of education. For ten years, GOA has provided intellectually rigorous, relationship-based online courses to students and educators. Our expertise in online learning and instructional design during a global health crisis provided us the opportunity to support thousands of students and educators. In addition, we have felt deeply the call to address systemic inequities in education, which has strengthened our commitment to our mission, to reimagine learning to empower students and educators to thrive in a globally networked society.

Over the coming weeks, we will be announcing our expanded vision - the pillars that will drive our work for the coming years. Before we do that, we wanted to first reflect on the past two years, and celebrate the voices of the people who ensure we are able to continue this important work: our students and educators. As we look forward, our focus has been and will remain on three main goals:

Serving Students

At GOA, our learner-centered approach to online education is defined by what we have learned from a decade of working with students. We see three essential ingredients to our courses:

  1. connecting students to topics they care about
  2. ensuring they have the support and guidance of an expert teacher
  3. creating the opportunity to meet and collaborate with like-minded peers from many different schools

Since March 2020, we have served 4,600 students in our semester and yearlong courses and more than 10,000 students in our flex online courses for high school and middle school students. By engaging in these courses, students not only learn relevant content, but develop the understanding and skills required to learn and connect online. By developing relationships with peers from backgrounds different than their own, students gain deeper cultural understanding and build empathy.

Stu­dent Voices

Supporting Teachers

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, schools faced an urgent need to identify, develop, and refine online learning design and facilitation skills. In March 2020, we launched the first version of our Designing for Online Learning course that was open and free to all educators. Over the months that followed, we built on that introductory course by offering an entire series of courses on designing for online and for equity, as well as live online workshops and intensive programs for teachers and school leaders. By March 2021, we had served 40,000 educators from six continents, 20% of whom came from public or charter schools.

No matter the format of these professional learning experiences, our approach has been the same: provide the content, support, and strategies teachers and leaders need to immediately apply learner-centered ideas to their practice, no matter if they’re engaging students on-campus or online.

Fac­ul­ty Voices

Preparing Schools for the Future

GOA is a global community, and we have learned from our network that school will look different in the coming months: some schools will need to continue with online or hybrid learning, and others will be in-person facing a wide variety of constraints as well as rapidly evolving news about variants. After 18 months of education during a global health crisis, schools also have new skills, tools, and experiences that have reshaped their understanding of what education is and what it can be. To address schools’ long-term need to adapt to a changed educational landscape, GOA launched our Center for Professional Learning and Design Lab. We believe that online learning can improve teaching and learning no matter the environment, and schools should be reflecting on and identifying the ways in which they can apply lessons from this challenging time to design for a future that is more equitable, more accessible, more global, and higher-quality.

Want to get involved with GOA? Inquire about becoming a member school or learn more about our Professional Learning offerings.

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