Virtual School: Embracing the World of Online Learning
Virtual learning is learning experienced differently; different not just from the look and feel but also how teachers engage with students and how learning is shared. New virtual learners often find the initial adjustment challenging, however the virtual format has gained momentum the world over as a credible and effective way of engaging learners. As a result, major universities in the USA like Harvard and UCLA have shifted towards online coursework as parts of their regular programs. As the demand for adapting to online learning grows, so does ISB’s commitment to developing adaptability in today’s young learners.
Benefits of Virtual Learning
Virtual learning can empower learners by allowing flexible and innovative ways of sharing, developing and interacting with content online. Digital-native students who have comfortably used technology since their early years are particularly at ease with the abundance of online tools in the digital learning environment. As we now know, virtual learning can successfully accommodate learning for those in need of a flexible schedule, or whose lives have been disrupted by volatile or extraordinary circumstances.
Alongside these benefits, however, are also significant challenges for the many students, parents and teachers who are accustomed to operating predominantly in a non-virtual school environment.
ISB’s Virtual School program is maintained as a contingency plan to engage ISB students with curriculum should extraordinary events restrict school campus access for an extended period. Our faculty are guided by a Virtual Learning Plan; a framework that allows educators to create appropriate learning activities and collaborative interactions that best meet their students’ learning objectives and needs. Guidelines are also provided for parents and students to ease this transition. As a virtual platform, ISB Virtual School ensures student’s learning objectives remain unchanged and learning can continue with minimal disruption in the short to medium term.
For virtual learning to be effective, teachers must create online learning environments that learners find stimulating, engaging and well organized. Students, parents or caregivers should be able to navigate the platform with ease, understanding what work needs to be done and where to locate any necessary information. Vital components of our Virtual School framework include content delivery, communications and collaboration, workspace, file sharing and assessment.
Transitioning through change and having to learn a new skill set is hard, and the same is true when starting out with virtual school. Frustrations will be experienced by everyone unfamiliar with operating inthis new format. Our ISB teachers are constantly evaluating what students are doing online, how learning is presented, and what students need next: just as they do every day in the classrooms. Our teachers are working tirelessly to find ways of adapting the learning activities to meet the needs of students as well as finding ways to connect with students directly through Google Meeting chats, group forums, email, and multiple other platforms that engage students and allow them to connect, communicate and collaborate.
Having launched ISB Virtual School, we are encouraged by feedback that our community is adjusting to the “new normal” and establishing routines and habits that support meaningful virtual learning. One parent shared, “I’m thrilled that the kids have to adapt to this kind of learning environment and navigate a change into virtual platforms - I think it’s good for them in the long run. One day in the future they will be in work environments requiring these very skills.” We continuously welcome and invite feedback on how to use tools, technology and resources to better support our learners.
Being adaptable as a community ensures we will remain resilient and responsive in the face of uncertainty. We deeply appreciate the commitment of our community in this transition.