How to choose the right online high school
Distance learning – could it work for your teenager?12th Jul 2022
Going to school has traditionally involved learners physically attending school premises but following the pandemic it’s become more acceptable to work online, even when it comes to schooling.
Young kids may not have the self-discipline to learn online – I found that out the hard way during the height of the lockdowns. However, as children mature towards adulthood online learning may just be the way forward. After all, standards have improved and children nowadays access a range of information and course materials online.
A plethora of online schools have sprung up offering everything from recorded to live lessons. But how do you choose one that’s right for your child?
The pros and cons
According to fundiconnect.co.za, there are several advantages to studying at home. These include: increased safety, affordability and comfort.
The site highlights that research shows that learners who get online lessons retain 25-60% more learning material than the 8-10% if they were taught in a physical classroom. The reason for this is because online learning often encourages students to learn at their own pace. If videos are recorded it gives them the added benefit of watching the lesson or rewinding it if they want the material explained again.
There are, of course, downsides to e-learning too. For instance, learners may feel isolated from their peers, they may prefer face to face communication, or it could even be a struggle for those who are less computer literate.
Get the right online school
However, if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and you feel online learning is right for your teen then there’s a plethora of places to choose from.
Top online teaching providers include Curro Online, which provides live lessons with experienced teachers from grade 4 to 12 on MS Teams; Futures Academy which offers flexible solutions for grade 7-12 learners; and Crimson Global Academy (CGA), to name but a few.
“The key to choosing an online high school is to think about what you want for your child when it comes to their education. If studying at a top university is one of their goals, then you’ll need to find a high-engagement school that offers international curricula and prepares them for the academic rigour of those institutions,” says executive principal of Crimson Global Academy (CGA), John Morris.
CGA teaches students from more than 30 countries, including South Africa, and is registered to offer International GCSEs, International A-Levels, Advanced Placement (AP), Cambridge Assessment, International Examinations (CIE), and the United States High School Diploma.
If you choose an international school, like CGA, bear in mind that their start and end times don’t line up with South Africa’s schools. As an international school, the next CGA classes begin 5 September 2022.
How to choose the right online school
Morris advises parents to consider the following when choosing an online high school:
- Live versus pre-recorded lessons:Live lessons offer more opportunities for classroom-based discussion, which improves student engagement and allows learners to ask questions, make comments and create meaningful personal connections.
- Class size:Smaller class sizes help students feel more comfortable to ask for help and ensure they receive individualised support. “Small classes foster greater interaction between students and teachers,” he says.
- International curriculum:Graduating with globally recognised qualifications improves your child’s options when it comes to applying to university or finding work internationally, so consider this if your child wants to travel the world or move abroad.
- Leading technology: Online learning works best when it’s facilitated via purpose-built platforms that are designed with learning principles in mind. Morris advises avoiding schools that simply use existing video conferencing technologies for classes.
- Experienced teachers:Teaching staff should be trained to provide instructions virtually and have extensive experience in teaching both on and offline. International online high schools provide access to subject specialists from all around the world.
- Extracurriculars:Teacher-led clubs, group activities, and leadership positions are critical to a full high school experience, and a well-rounded university application. It will also help with any isolation issues your teen may be dealing with.