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Learner Autonomy

Developing Learner Autonomy in Virtual Education. Websites, Virtual Courses, and Virtual Classes That Can Help You Study Alone

Written by Patrick Quigley


Introduction to developing learner autonomy in virtual education. Websites, virtual courses, and virtual classes that can help you study alone.


Managing your own learning, independent learning, or learner autonomy. These all refer to the concept of learners developing skills for learning independently without constant instruction or outside of the classroom. 

The COVID pandemic and the worldwide shift to online learning have increased the necessity for learners to get involved in independent learning and developing autonomous skills. Online education classes, virtual courses, virtual classes, virtual learning, and virtual schools are great places to develop autonomy because many digital platforms are developed with that concept in mind. 


Virtual courses and virtual classes

Are now fully learner friendly and easy to navigate. Even young children can learn to become autonomous. My 6-year-old daughter is learning Czech and Spanish on Duolingo. She loves it and there is truly little need for supervision. Of course, a parent is always nearby if she needs assistance, but she is learning her way to navigate the process of self/learning by engaging in autonomous online education classes that she schedules herself. She also sees the benefits and reaps the digital and academic rewards herself. Little does my daughter know that she is not just learning languages, but she is developing real-world skills for the adult world and these learner autonomy skills will benefit her for the rest of her life. 


Online Classes



My 8-year-old daughter is learning to play the violin from YouTube and while she is technically not enrolled in virtual courses or virtual classes, she is partaking in online education and little does she know that she is designing her own curriculum, creating her own work schedule, managing her time, and making crucial decisions about her learning experience.

I am starting to believe that there is enough information online to learn anything and guess what? A lot of it is fantastic and it is free! Much of the free material comes from reputable sources with a solid history in the education business. It is easy to monitor what your children are learning and assess the benefits.

In many cases, the newly created world of online classes has meant students have had to manage their own learning during the last three years. Many digital platforms now encourage learner autonomy and many more are continuing to emerge and gain popularity.

This short article will highlight nine tried and tested websites that allow your children to work alone, create their own virtual classes and virtual courses, virtual classes and practice creating their own online education. Most of them are free and superbly user-friendly. I have used them all a lot and that is why I have chosen to talk about them here.


Website # 1. www.shiminly.com. A virtual class your child can participate in alone and learn to become autonomous and responsible for their own online education. 


Shiminly is “educating global citizens for a changing world.” Their international educators “virtually prepare students with future-ready skills to thrive in a changing world with innovative approaches to a whole-person education”

Shiminly is a new leader in online education. Classes are available for all ages and soft skills and learner autonomy are at the heart of their educational ethos. 

Classes are fun and there is a huge variety of topics to suit all ages and interests. Examples of workshops include “Ethical dilemmas in Artificial Intelligence,” “How to choose a university” “Stress and Sports” and “The five senses.” There are free workshops available on www.shiminly.com


Website # 2. www.learnenglish.britishcouncil.org and www.learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org  A virtual class your child can participate in alone and learn to become autonomous and responsible for their own online education. 


The British Council is a British organization working on international cultural and educational opportunities. It has offices in over one hundred countries and has been in existence since 1934. It promotes a wider knowledge of the United Kingdom and the English language and has excellent websites where students of all ages can practice their four skills. 

The organization encourages cultural, scientific, technological, and educational learner autonomy and has a huge variety of free resources including games, videos, stories, comprehension exercises, grammar exercises and more. There are blogs and comment sections, and you can message for help if you require it. I have been using the British Council websites for a decade and can vouch for their use and learner-friendly layout. You cannot go wrong.





Website # 3. www.Doulingo.com. A virtual class your child can participate in alone and learn to become autonomous and responsible for their own online education. 


www.Duolingo.com is a language learning platform with a lot of free classes. It is based on a reward system. The more you learn the more you get back for free in return. As an online education platform, it allows your child to create their own virtual course or virtual class. It is super user-friendly and even a little addictive! I use it myself and my kids also benefit from using it. Parents listen up! A free babysitting tool that is educational and teaches your children a language! There are hundreds of languages to choose from and it is a lot of fun and suitable for all ages.


Virtual Classes



Website # 4. www.Kahoot.com A virtual class your child can participate in alone and learn to become autonomous and responsible for their own online education. 


Kahoot is by now another staple classic in classrooms all over the world. Teachers and students love it. It is a quiz platform with a competitive edge where you can compete with other players and its competitive streak makes it incredibly engaging. There are countless topics, and you can find quizzes on everything from literature to environmental issues to physics, chemistry, history politics and you name it. Students can also create their own quizzes and add to the platform giving them an incredible learner autonomous experience and developing their independence and soft skills like time management, decision making and critical thinking for the future. 


Soft Skills



Website # 5. www.baamboozle.com. A virtual class your child can participate in alone and learn to become autonomous and responsible for their own online education. 


Baamboozle is another quiz platform like Kahoot but with a different interface. Again, kids love it, and you can find topics on a plethora of subjects. To develop your own virtual course and virtual class you can create your own quizzes, personalize them with your own photos and graphics and share them with friends and classmates. You can also complete the quizzes and learn, learn, learn!


Virtual Class



Website # 6. www.cokogames.com. A virtual class your child can participate in alone and learn to become autonomous and responsible for their own online education. 


Math, typing, English, letters, addition, subtraction, multiplication, science, music, social studies, jigsaws, memory, music, and board games. It is all here. My kids love it, and it is categorized into age groups with something for everyone. Create your own virtual course or virtual class and create your own online education where you are in charge and manage your own learning. The benefits are enormous for students, teachers, and parents alike! 


Virtual Course



Website # 7. www.mathsisfun.com A virtual class your child can participate in alone and learn to become autonomous and responsible for their own online education. 


Puzzles, geometry, calculus, games, algebra, worksheets, and an online dictionary. Maths is fun is another excellent site for developing learner autonomy. It has a ton of games to learn things like multiplication tables and fractions. Making learning fun is something all parents and teachers should strive to achieve and this site nails it. It`s a perfect virtual school to develop not only academic skills but soft skills like decision-making and critical thinking to boot.


Soft Skills



Website # 8. www.quizlet.com A virtual class your child can participate in alone and learn to become autonomous and responsible for their own online education. 


Quizlet has been around for many years, and it is an excellent study tool. The Quizlet app is excellent for helping to memorize vocabulary, learn concepts and improve your vocabulary bank. It is excellent for learning new lexis and learning definitions. I personally used this when I was studying a post-graduate course and found it invaluable. It can be used by all ages for many reasons and its mobile app makes it excellent for studying on the move.


Participate Alone



Website # 9. www.brainpop.com. A virtual class your child can participate in alone and learn to become autonomous and responsible for their own online education. 


BrainPOP has hundreds of educational videos and comprehension-type activities after each. It is fabrication for learning about history, science, and social studies. It also has a literature section. BrainPOP claims it is proven to deliver higher achievement and inspire “kids to connect deeply to any topic by making it relatable, entertaining, and easy to understand.” Their approach enhances academic achievement and builds thinking and Social Emotional Learning skills. Educators use it worldwide. BrainPOP has a small selection of free stuff, and the rest is on a subscription basis. 



Autonomous learners creating their own virtual classes and virtual courses should do three main things.

  1. They should play an active role in their learning
  2. They should make decisions about their learning
  3. They should reflect and evaluate their learning

The websites I have mentioned in this short article foster learner autonomy and enable learners to do these three things. Learning to learn is an amazing competency to achieve. Encourage your children to take responsibility for their own learning and you are creating an independent learner for life. We have been born into a digital age. Free education is at our fingertips. Use it and benefit from it. What have you got to lose?

Good luck and enjoy!




Patrick is from Ireland and has been teaching for the last twenty years. He has worked in Malaysia, Myanmar, India, Spain, Japan, Taiwan, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. He has a degree in English Literature and Applied Psychology. Patrick loves travelling and learning about new cultures. He is passionate about motivating students to maximize their creative potential.


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Chris is from Devon, in the south of England. He has been teaching English as a foreign language for over six years and has taught in China, the UK, Hungary and Spain. He has a background in Music and studied Composition at the RSAMD in Glasgow, Trinity Laban in London and at the University of York. After finishing his master’s at York, he travelled to China to teach and fell in love with it. He has been teaching ever since.

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