The rise of the online high school…institute pioneers new ways of learning

27 Feb, 2021 - 16:02 0 Views
The rise of the online high school…institute pioneers new ways of learning

The Sunday News

Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter

SOME say the coming of Covid-19 may have changed the face of education forever.

For the best part of a year, children have had to get used to getting fed nuggets of knowledge via a screen and some, after such a long time, may have even forgotten the smell of chalk, or the sound of a duster scrapping on a chalkboard.

They may have forgotten what it felt like to be within touching distance of a classmate, or the thrill of running on a sports field.

Across the globe, at various points last year, many children have gone for months without setting foot in a classroom.

For a year, online learning has been a reality for many. However, for others, this was the norm even before the first Covid-19 case was diagnosed in 2019.

As if they had their eye on the future, Valenture Institute was launched in 2019. It is an online high school offering students from the British curriculum, focusing on subjects ranging from Maths, English, Business, French, Social Studies & Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Physics to Chemistry, Biology and Geography. After first taking students in 2020, the school has now launched in Zimbabwe where it expects to be an unique, exclusive online learning experience.

Valenture Institute’s Founder and CEO, Robert Paddock says the institution had already forecast knew that education had to change even before the advent of Covid-19.

“Our mission at Valenture Institute has always been to evolve education as we believe in providing more than just a quality online education – we’re dedicated to empowering a global student body of responsible citizens and equipping them to make the best of their collective and individual futures.

“Even before COVID-19, we knew education had to change. Today, this is more apparent than ever. Online learning provides a unique opportunity for students to learn and be taught from literally anywhere in the world, by the best teachers in the world, without being limited to the confines of physical space in any way, shape or form,” he said.

According to Paddock, education today needs to evolve to suit the needs of a generation that has grown up with a lot of technological change and advancement around them.

More specialisation and personalisation of education are needed for students to thrive, both in terms of curriculum and education practice. Today’s younger generation thinks in a totally different way, with needs that are different to older generations. Outdated schooling systems do them a disservice by forcing a mould that no longer fits,” he said.

Kim Westcott, Head of Technology at Valenture Institute, said education needed to in a constant state of change just as the environment around it was.

“The world is changing so fast. The skills we needed yesterday are not going to be the same as the skills we need tomorrow. It’s a huge task for educators today to adapt and teach the skills that are needed for a future world, when that world is largely unknown and changing so fast. Education is also changing in its accessibility. I believe we are getting closer than ever to bridge the huge inequality in our planet by finding creative means to provide top quality education to those less fortunate,” he said.

As parents have weighed the pros and cons of online education, a common complaint amongst parents has been the amount of effort it takes on their part to get their children through a full day of school. Valenture Institute however, believes it has a way around this.

“Our parents are particularly thrilled by our mentor system. The thing is, a lot of parents are concerned that their child might not be organised enough to excel in the online environment, or that the social element will be lacking.

“However, the designers of the Valenture Institute curriculum have created the blueprint for student success. For example, every Friday, a student’s mentor sends a work plan for the following week. This sets out the timetable for the next week, including any cycle tests that may be coming up, and a breakdown of what the student should do each day of the week complete with the time it will take the average student to complete each task,” he said.

The institute has put safeguards against the reality of poor connectivity or power loss. the Zimbabwe International English Centre to provide our learners with computers, fast Wi-Fi and backup generators.

“The world we live in today is changing at such a rapid pace. By the time our students receive their textbooks, they are already practically out of date. This is especially true when it comes to teaching our young people about the global challenges facing us all. And this is where online learning is seen to be carving out the evolution of education as we know it.

“As we continue to build and shape our sustainability curriculum, the SDG Labs, we seek to integrate more interactive online learning components, emphasise more content that’s relevant to our young students, and provide more opportunities for them to take real action,” says Cris Robertson, Valenture Institute’s Sustainability Learning Designer.


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