This semester, I have been taking the Intro to Psychology course with Global Online Academy (GOA), an online classroom where students have the opportunity to take courses with students from schools worldwide. I have heard many Concord Academy students describe their GOA experiences, most of which had mixed feelings. However, my personal experience so far has been mostly positive. I feel that GOA, as an online classroom, shares many of CA’s core values, and the course I took made me want to pursue a career in psychiatric care. 

From my experience, GOA is “a community animated by love of learning,” just like that of CA. This “love of learning” is not only demonstrated by my classmates and teacher at GOA but also in the way my course is structured. At GOA, courses focus more on a student’s individual improvement and learning, rather than test grades, and the quality of work compared to that of the other classmates. 

Teachers at GOA grade work throughout the semester, but the average of these scores does not necessarily determine a student’s final grade in the course. At the end of the semester (which I have not yet reached), GOA students write many reflections and meet with their teacher in order to review their improvement in the course. I have found this system to be extremely forgiving and empathetic. 

At the beginning of the course, the online tools used by GOA were very foreign to me. I struggled with these online resources and often found myself unaware of when certain assignments were due, resulting in me having to hand in a couple of them late. However, I spoke with my teacher, and not only did he not dock too many points on these assignments, but he also helped me figure out how to use these online tools. 

I am now confident in my ability to utilize this technology, and my teacher has told me that my improvement in this area is what really matters, not my failures at the beginning. He cares that I learned from my mistakes more than the mistakes themselves, thus displaying the forgiving nature of the GOA community. 

Similar to many classes at CA, GOA is an online classroom committed to “honoring each individual,” as most courses are discussion-based which allows students to contribute their diverse opinions. Like at CA, my peers from GOA come from all over the world and have had very different experiences that have shaped their opinions. The assignments enable my peers and me to form an opinion and post it to an online discussion. 

We are then encouraged to respond to one another’s post and agree or disagree while offering questions that are meant to challenge each other’s thinking. However, these responses are always respectful of people’s opinions, which I find to be very special. I have learned so much from both the ideas of my classmates and their responses to my quotes. The individual opinions of my classmates have really helped to challenge my thinking and taught me to be more open to other’s ideas. 

A similar dynamic to CA’s “common trust” also exists at GOA. Students are trusted to post whatever they choose in these online discussions which are unmoderated by the professor. The teachers at GOA allow students to contribute their raw opinions and responses to online discussions, trusting that they will be appropriate and respectful.  A sense of “common trust” also exists among my classmates and me, in that we all have confidence that we can submit our true responses in discussions, without receiving disrespectful comments. There is a mutual agreement that exists among all of us that we will be respectful of others’ opinions.  

Not only has my experience in this course really allowed my interest in the field of psychology to blossom but has also allowed me to find the areas of psychology in which I am the most interested. Before GOA, I thought I wanted to focus primarily on abnormal psychology and end up as a psychiatrist for adults. However, this course really challenged the way I thought about psychology and caused me to become interested in children’s psychological development. I now want to work with children or maybe become a researcher for early childhood development. 

My experience at GOA has been made extremely positive because my course has embodied many of CA’s core values, including “love of learning,” “honoring each individual,” and “common trust.” I am so grateful for all this experience has taught me about what my true interests are and the relationships that I have formed with my teacher and classmates. I’d certainly encourage other CA students, particularly those who are interested in a topic that CA does not offer, to take a GOA course. GOA is a supportive learning environment, in which both the teacher and classmates will help to enrich a student’s passion for a subject they are interested in.