Virtual schooling for young learners

One of my favourite network bloggers Paul Hamilton often reflects what an exciting time it is to be an educator. I couldn’t agree more. Paul was referring to the vast array of tools accessible to engage all learners such as the UDL tech tool kit which has a great selection of digital tools.

This morning I was really excited to read an article about ‘Virtual’ schooling: education outside school.  Technology has definitely broadened options for pupils unwilling or unable to attend a standard school environment.  For a variety of reasons, there are at any time, a large number of children who may not suit the school system.  The successes achieved by students in the article is inspiring.

For example, Billie, opted out of school due to bullying.  She enrolled as a student of Vision2Learn (UK) and it changed her life.  ‘ I could choose my own hours because I had work I could get on with and didn’t have to wait for the next “class”.  I wasn’t alone either – my online tutor provided support along the way. And I am currently enjoying the Wizard on the Web course.’ She is now setting her sights on becoming an IT tutor.  Vision2Learn has over 60,000 learners.  Vision2learn currently offers 22 different courses in subjects such as computer skills, work skills, personal development, health, fitness and coaching and key skills.  Courses are also avaiable for students in school.

I agree with the article’s author, Sal McKeown, ‘In the  past, being educated out of school was seen as second best. It conjured up images of home tutors, part-time provision, a diet of basic skills and a restricted curriculum. Pupils would find themselves steered away from science or languages because of the need for equipment or specialist staff. These days it can be a very different story and for some pupils, education in virtual classrooms is better suited to their needs than “normal” schooling’.

The final paragraph by the school’s principal, Tony Ryan, sums it up perfectly: ‘The world of work has changed beyond all recognition in the UK. Factories are largely a thing of the past and many people will be home workers or freelancers who will need to be ‘self starters’ with first-rate computer and web skills and the ability to work independently. If this is to be the pattern for many of tomorrow’s workers, then the virtual classroom is an excellent grounding and could be of great benefit to all learners’.

Students can enrol in Vision2Learn courses (which lead to national qualifications) if they are 16+ and live in England.

Closer to home, I know that TAFE colleges here in Australia offer online courses to students, some of which can be accessed by high school students. Victoria TAFE TAFE Queensland, TAFE open learning QLD, Tasmania TAFE online learning, Open Training and Education Network NSW.  A virtual high school?  I think this is definitely something that would fulfil a need for students who don’t do well in a standard school environment.  Distance education schools are available although the dominant mode of delivery has  generally been correspondence-style.  With advances in technology, more opportune options for delivery to suit all learners and opportunities to meet all learners’ needs is necessary in our fast-changing world.