More and more parents and students are looking for a more flexible approach to public and private education, and online schools are becoming increasingly popular. As every family, parent and students needs are uniquely different, we have compiled a list of discussion points to help those considering online education determine if online schooling is right for you or your child.
What is an online School?
Online schools deliver the same curriculum at the same standard as regular public or private schools with flexibility of studying at a time that suits your personal lifestyle.
Just as with regular school, online schools have teachers who are qualified, responsible with a vested interest to ensure your child receives the best possible education.
Monitoring your child’s progress is easy for both parents and teachers, but the responsibility to monitor your child’s attendance regularly lies with the parent.
There are numerous advantages and disadvantages of this type of education which we discuss further below.
How does online school differ from regular teaching methods?
Online teaching is equal to regular schooling in just about every way, students are enrolled just like they would be in a regular school however, there are some obvious differences and benefits;
- students study at a time suitable to their schedule or personal choice, which means they can pursue sporting, musical or creative interests
- online students do not wear uniforms which has considerable cost savings.
- no transport children too and from school
- no daily face-to-face social interactions other than online, can be isolating
- relief for students subject to bullying or with special needs
As you can see, there are some obvious benefits and some social considerations that can be overcome, but nonetheless need to be considered.
What attracts parents to consider online schooling?
Parents are increasingly concerned about the standard of education, bullying and exposure to bad influences in the school system resulting in a trend away from conventional schooling.
Many parents have turned to private and Christian schools as the answer, many of which deliver exemplary results. For parents wanting more direct involvement in how their child is educated and influenced, online schooling seems to be the answer.
In Australia, some private and Christian Schools offer online schooling as it offers the advantage that home schooling provides without the responsibility and time commitment required to accommodate their child’s education.
Online education removes the threat of bullying and bad influence and strengthens the family unit. Many children suffer less stress and happier studying in their family home.
Parents are able to provide wholesome meals for their children at home, saving time and money preparing or buying school lunches, school supplies and uniforms.
What are the differences between online schools, home schooling and distance education?
There are three alternative types of schooling in Australia other than regular schooling, they are home schooling, online schools and distance education.
Although they are all conducted in the home environment, they are all very different in their reporting, accountability and flexibility.
Home schooling has been around for a long-term, and something the education department has frowned upon. There are very strict setup and reporting requirements and the parent is totally responsible for delivery of every aspect of the child’s education.
Distance education has also been around for quite some time and was intended for students living in remote areas to be able to attend school, when distance education started, much of the learning was done through a combination of correspondence and radio communication.
With the advent of the internet, distance education now has similarities as online education, however, the primary difference is that distance education students start and finish at the same times as regular school students.
As we have stated previously, online education offers all the benefits of the regular curriculum with the flexibility of when and where a student can study.
How do online students develop social skills?
One of the most notable difficulties to online learning is social interaction. Social interaction is crucial for all ages, but even more so for growing children, the absence of which has been shown to intellectually and psychologically impair a child’s mental growth.
So, it’s important for children to build friendships online, connect and participate in outdoor activities with other children in their community and meet face-to-face daily when possible. Inclusion in sporting events and excursions is paramount.
Consider getting involved in local community projects and events, churches and/or sporting and hobby groups.
Online education can be challenging for some students, students need to be self-driven, motivated and monitored to ensure they are getting support when and if needed.
How much does online school cost?
Cost will depend on school type. Government Distance Education providers may charge different fees based on choice or circumstance. Independent Online Schools charge similar to regular Independent Schools. Fees are usually much lower than on-campus facilities. Discounts are often offered for annual payment or sibling enrolments.
As you can see, online schooling offers considerable advantages for parents and children alike. Online schooling can be challenging and it’s certainly not for everyone. For motivated children, online education can be a very rewarding experience.