Due to the coronavirus, we are constantly hearing terms many parents are unfamiliar with. These include distance learning, remote learning, online learning, blended learning, and e-Learning. While these may be new to you, the concept of virtual learning has been around for quite some time.
Virtual Learning Is Not New
Students have been learning on computers since the early 90s, when they first were introduced to the classroom. Initially, this involved using giant monitors and slow connections.
Since then, the World Wide Web has become a ginormous cyberspace library. Children are now able to access any information they desire in an instant, making online schools a valuable learning resource.
Over the last 20 years, students have been able to choose between schools offering studies entirely online or they can engage in a blended learning program. Blended learning involves the use of computers in the classroom while allowing students the ability to also work at home on their academics part-time.
The Coronavirus Elevates Online School Needs
What has occurred since the pandemic in March of 2020 is nothing we have seen before. COVID-19 has created an emergency in the delivery of education to millions of children in our country.
Without the ability to attend school as usual, school districts are faced with a crisis and working hard to create a solution. More specifically, an online solution. A remote solution.
Some have done an outstanding job at this, leaning on experts with experience to provide guidance in creating a solid online learning program. Others have failed in this regard, leaving students and parents upset, and unprepared.
In fairness, it would be difficult and extremely challenging to be in the shoes of those who’ve had to turn brick and mortar schools into a fully online platform literally overnight. As a founder and director of an online school for over 17 years, I can only imagine how long it will take them to fully grasp what distance learning looks like.
How to Choose an Online School for Your Student
In an attempt to help parents and students understand what learning online can and should look like—so children can learn, be challenged, and stay engaged—here are a few factors to consider when choosing your direction for the upcoming school year.
- The length of time your student is required to be online. Distance learning doesn’t have to mean sitting in front of a computer all day. For instance, at On Track School, we offer a blended program of online and text-based learning that involves 3-4 hours of coursework daily. This enables them to increase their knowledge without making it feel like a full-time job.
- Whether the school offers real-world learning opportunities. Learning involves more than studying history, english, or math. That’s why On Track School also offers electives designed to help students increase their independence and better understand how to be a good citizen. This provides a more complete learning experience.
- If the school provides students a sense of belonging. The number one need of all human beings, and this includes students, is to feel that they belong. This can be more difficult to achieve in an online environment. We combat this by offering students one-on-one coaching. We also provide live sessions with teachers and classmates so they feel like they are part of an actual classroom.
- The ability to meet your child’s specific needs. What if your student wants to graduate early or has special needs? It’s important to choose an online school that addresses these issues individually. This gives students the opportunity to succeed at their own learning pace and in their own learning style.
Basic program requirements. No matter which online school you choose, you will need to have basic internet capabilities. It’s also helpful if your student has his or her own laptop. Some even offer access to mobile apps, allowing you to regularly check in on your child’s progress.
Finding the Best Distance Learning Program
School openings will look different for everyone across our country. So, parents, do your research when finding the best distance learning program for your child. Look at its basic essentials and consider whether it will bring you the greatest return for your student’s success.
Students, do your homework too. Look for an online learning program that can be personalized to fit you. Find one that makes you feel like you fit in and can excel.In the midst of an uncertain future, know that there are resources available to assist you in the virtual learning process. The experts here at On Track School are here to support you and encourage you during this critical time. Contact us today to discuss what we can do for you.