Exploring Global Online Academy with HKIS Students

Gracie Chung

Game Theory, Number Theory, Medical Problem Solving, and Poetry Writing are just a few of the online classes the Global Online Academy (GOA) offers to HKIS students.
These are classes that are not taught at HKIS that students may potentially want to take. Many seniors last year, for example, had already completed AP Calculus BC in eleventh grade and decided to take the Linear Algebra course through GOA before heading off to college.
GOA has a worldwide school membership—ranging from schools in South Africa, Japan, India, the United States, Mexico, and Hong Kong.
Its mission is to “replicate in online classrooms the intellectually rigorous programs and excellent teachings that are hallmarks of its member schools; to foster new and effective ways, through best practices in online education, for students to learn; and to promote students' global awareness and understanding by creating truly diverse, worldwide, online schoolroom communities.”
GOA is hosted on a website called “Canvas,” similar to Schoology with a calendar, a grades section, and units, called “modules.”
Although GOA offers a wide range of courses, there are still aspects to be improved.
According to Bertrand How (11), the Medical Problem Solving I class he took through GOA was unsatisfactory except for a Q&A session held with a real doctor through which he could ask questions.
How wanted to take the course because HKIS does not offer a similar course and “the course subject is related to the career [he wants] to pursue.”
How offered his insight into the format of the GOA classes.
“We didn't really hold ‘classes,’ but instead had video call meetings every month or so. Basically, we signed up for the meetings through the website. There are multiple time slots to choose from because not everyone is available at the same time. There was only one written test in my course, which was taken directly on the website. It worked a lot like the Schoology quizzes,” he elaborates. “For our course, a lot of [the homework involved creating] Google presentations, writing comments in a "Discussions" post, making videos, and doing assigned reading from a book.”
How especially found it inconvenient that most of his classmates lived in the U.S., which meant that due to the time difference, group projects were harder to coordinate. Occasionally, he had to stay up until 1 AM to participate in mandatory group meetings.
Another aspect How believes could be improved was a misunderstanding regarding the nature of the class. How expected the course to be individual learning based, but he notes, “you were forced to "get to know" and "connect" with other people in the class, [but] it just felt really unnecessary and forced... My whole experience in the course [consisted of] doing Google searches [instead of learning something I couldn’t search on Google].”
Additionally, future modules, or what are “units” at HKIS, are not revealed on Canvas. For How, this meant he could not work ahead on GOA to create more time for other subjects he was taking at HKIS.
How concludes, “For me, it was quite a lot of work and pressure because of a lot of [assignments] were due during weekdays when I was busy with a lot of tests. If you have a lot of free time, GOA probably won't be a lot of pressure, but I imagine most people [at HKIS] aren't that free.”
Michelle Lee (12) enrolled in Introduction to Psychology I on GOA because she needed an extra Humanities credit—she took the last school year off in order to pursue golf.
Lee echoes a similar opinion to How. “Based on what I heard, some students in [other] courses only received assignments once a week, meaning that they could use the weekend to complete them, while my teacher gave me homework every single day,” Lee notes. “Also, some of the assignments conflicted with school holidays, meaning that completing the homework was problematic when I was in places with limited WiFi access."
Lee also mentions that much of the course consisted of doing research on her own, rather than the teachers themselves offering more course material.
However, unlike How, Lee feels that GOA classes could be improved by holding more Skype calls or meetings and by becoming more interactive.
Lee believes that GOA, overall, allowed her the flexibility regarding when she wanted to complete her homework and allowed her to take courses she did not have the time to take at school.