Classzoom: How e-learning can work

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Giving an effective online lesson is a specialized skill. Understanding what works has led to successful online schools.

Online learning during COVID has been called “hell” for many parents and teachers.

But for tens of thousands of students around the world, attending face-to-face classes is not an option, even in the absence of a pandemic. They rely on the virtual school to achieve their educational aspirations.

‘David’ is 14 years old and suffers from chronic fatigue. He is quickly overwhelmed by the wide variety of entrances to traditional classrooms.

“Tayla” suffers from trauma from recent domestic violence. She is reluctant to leave her mother’s or family’s home for long periods of time.

“Greg” is an elite athlete with an incredibly busy training schedule as he hopes to represent Australia at the Winter Olympics next year.

“Anne” lives in a regional area and is the only student in her local community who wants to study Japanese at the graduate level.

Students like these are supported by virtual schools. Large-scale virtual schools with enrollments of tens of thousands of students exist in many countries around the world. Many people don’t realize that the largest school in the Australian state of Victoria – Virtual School Victoria (VSV) – is fully online with over 5,000 Foundation students enrolled in Grade 12.

Virtual schooling with specially trained teachers can not only be very effective, but it can also be a vital part of an education system, providing equity and opportunity for students who would otherwise miss out.

It works because teachers working in virtual schools do things differently from teachers who have had to switch to online education due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A study of interviews with experienced online teachers helps explain how.

Compared to teachers who had to make a rapid transition to online learning, teachers in virtual schools have a complex and interconnected understanding of the use of technology. They manage their relationships with students in a different way and actively critique their own teaching practice and the technologies they use.

They also understand the principles of online instructional design because they are so essential to their job.

The pandemic has paved the way for prospective teachers to undertake virtual internships, developing the knowledge, skills and abilities to become effective online teachers.

A pilot project in 2020 drew all the lessons from interviews with experienced online teachers to create a new virtual school, with lessons taught by student teachers under the supervision of fully qualified, registered and experienced secondary teachers.

The final year exam revision courses were quickly taken by storm. After the pandemic, the school’s goal is to support disadvantaged girls and young women studying STEM subjects. Over 60 future teachers can continue to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities to become effective online teachers – a critical part of any mature education system, not just one that supports learning during a pandemic.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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