What Would A ‘Supportive Environment’ Look Like Online?

An article in Education Week earlier this month pointed to an increasing data trend showing that a supportive school environment helps students learn more effectively.

Summarizing the findings, the publication observed:

“Mounting evidence from fields like neuroscience and cognitive psychology, as well as studies on such topics as school turnaround implementation, shows that an academically challenging yet supportive environment boosts both children’s learning and coping abilities. By contrast, high-stress environments in which students feel chronically unsafe and uncared for make it physically and emotionally harder for them to learn and more likely for them to act out or drop out.”

The findings apply to K-12 brick-and-mortar educational settings, but it also forces one to think about how some of the prevailing issues might translate as schools increasingly look to online solutions. Could online education, for example, circumvent the troubling issue of bullying that has dominated headlines in recent years? Or would the influx of information, delivered through a computer screen without a sympathetic human guide, make students more prone to stress and anxiety?

As national education moves forward with increasing integration of online and real-life worlds, the consequences of these kinds of complex issues will doubtless demand the attention of educators.