- Living in a country outside of the UK
- Unable to access an accredited British education
- Unable to afford international schooling fees
- An affordable alternative to international schooling
- To study for school or exams
- To achieve the best grades possible
- To follow the national UK curriculum
- The flexibility to study online from anywhere in the world
- Personalised feedback and support from experienced teachers
The sun rises over Guatemala City, and Cristina is getting ready for her iGCSE Geography class with her teacher, Sam. Cristina’s local school doesn’t offer the iGCSE, but she needs them to pursue her dream of studying law in the United States. Cristina is booked in to take the exams at her local examination centre in May, and she is looking forward to today’s lesson on urbanisation. Sitting in the quiet study in her parent’s house, she logs onto the online classroom on the computer. She is wearing her headset and microphone so that she can speak to Sam and the other members of her class. She opens her folder to last lessons’ page, and makes sure she has a pen and a notebook to hand. Sam has logged on already and put the lesson on the online whiteboard. “Good morning Cristina!” he says as she logs in, “Good morning!”, she returns, and the lesson begins.
This blog will cover:
- The rise of online education
- How does online schooling work?
- Why it is suited to international students?
- Online schooling as a tool for development
Online education has grown hugely in popularity in recent years, with free online resources such as MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), The Open University, Future Learn, EdX, or Coursera offering courses on all subjects at multiple levels for anyone. Some of these courses are accredited or equate to academic credits. The majority are one way, pre-recorded lessons which do not involve live interactions between teachers and pupils.
How does online schooling work?
Online schooling offers a personalised school, where young people receive all of their lessons via Skype-like software, in real time, with experienced teachers who know them. They can study the entire UK accredited National Curriculum for their iGCSE and A-Level examinations in the online school. If they wish they can sit the exams at their local examination centre, for a small fee. Much of the growth in online schooling has been in parallel with the rise of homeschooling in the UK. Growth has also been facilitated by improving technology, with the only requirement for students being a computer and a stable internet connection.
Students living all over the world are recognising online schools as a way to gain internationally recognised qualifications. Online schooling has been particularly popular in the USA, India, China, South Korea, Malaysia, the UK, Australia, and South Africa. British Expatriates living in areas of the Middle East such as Dubai are also using it to continue to provide their children with a quality British education from abroad. The effectiveness of online schooling has been shown through improved attainment in examinations, and high rates of student satisfaction. The small class numbers, close attention from teachers, and minimal distractions have been suggested as reasons for this.
Why is online schooling suited to international students?
Online schooling brings an accredited British education to international students, no matter where they are living anywhere in the world. They gain the benefits of tailor-made lessons, by English speaking teachers, in real time. This costs a fraction of international schooling fees. Students gain personalised support to take internationally recognised exams at their local examination centre. While British qualifications are highly sought after for enhancing employment opportunities, they are not always available at local schools. Online schooling, therefore, means that ambitious students living in areas not offering these qualifications can still study for them online. Students can also study at any age. Adults wanting to retrain or pursue a new career, whilst managing other responsibilities, can study when it suits them. Many students worldwide live in isolated rural areas that can be subject to bad weather. This can make accessibility difficult, resulting in school closures and missed days. In the Shetland Islands, schools have used online education to enable students to study from home when weather or access is poor. This removes the barrier of isolation to a quality education.
The future potential of online schooling in Africa?
As some final food for thought, there is increasing interest in online schooling as a means to increase access to education for students in African countries. Online education has the ability to deliver high-quality education and skills training to large numbers of students in rural or deprived schools. It reduces the need for costly textbooks and physical resources. Once it is established with a working internet connection it is simple to use. Speakers at the E-Learning Africa conference have claimed that education via ‘e-learning could revolutionize Africa’. Online schooling can provide students with competitive educational qualifications and knowledge. These are needed for them to be included in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy and the agency to improve their own economic situation locally. Indeed, education can facilitate ICT- based development and create employment. The future of online schooling is exciting and holds significant potential for students around the world.