At home in the world in an elite online school

Relocation brings a variety of new professional opportunities. Raymond Ravaglia, vice chairman of Dwight Global Online School, discusses the benefits of online education.

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The following article is from Relocate Global's Guide to International Education & Schools 2017. Packed with information on education around the world with expert tips for those relocating and the professionals supporting them, the guide is a must read for:
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Moving overseas on a work assignment provides a lot of professional opportunities, but the challenge surrounding consistent schooling for children requires some difficult choices. Raymond Ravaglia, vice chairman of Dwight Global Online School discusses the benefits of learning online.Sometimes, families know that relocation is on the cards but may not know exactly when. If the move is planned in the middle of a school year, should one parent stay back with the children while the other parent moves to a new city?Other times, an executive anticipates several opportunities for relocating in the near future. Will the children have to move from school to school, or should they be enrolled in boarding school, away from the family?And if the family’s destination doesn’t have a school on a par with their current school, should they reconsider the plan to move altogether?A new class of elite online schools has emerged that answers these difficult questions. With an online school, families and children may stay together, wherever they move, knowing that their children’s excellent school will come with them.

A new breed of online schools

While correspondence-type courses and self-paced programmes have been around for over a century, in recent years a new breed of online schools has emerged. Still few in number, these schools provide students and families with an authentic independent-school experience equivalent to, or better than, what you would find in a local school.Just like the best independent schools in the world, these schools feature academic rigour, excellent college guidance and acceptances, and personalised learning. Students learn from master teachers and each other, participate in rich traditions, and benefit from extensive alumni networks after graduation.Somewhat surprisingly to some, the best of these schools also place a premium on creating community. Students form deep friendships with each other that last beyond graduation, and parents build relationships around a shared interest in supporting their children’s education.

Benefits of an online education for relocating families

An online school is a school that students can take with them as they move from city to city without the move having a significant impact. This degree of flexibility addresses problems of timing or repetition in a way that is just not possible for a traditional school.During my 20 years in online education, I have seen at first hand exactly how an online school can benefit students who are moving from place to place. The following three examples illustrate what an online school can make possible:
  1. A complicated family and business life resulted in a student splitting time and moving back and forth between New York and Mumbai. An online school enabled this student to have a unified high school experience without boarding or having to choose just one home.
  2. A family that was to be posted overseas in a location lacking a suitable school was debating whether to turn down the posting or to split the family. Again, an online school provided a solution that enabled the student to remain with the family. The family took the post.
  3. A student whose father travelled frequently to universities around the world for periods varying from several weeks to several months moved to an online school, enabling him to travel with his father when he chose to, strengthening their relationship.
In each of these cases, families turned to an online school to move from place to place without compromising their child’s education.

Tips for selecting an online school

Finding a school that truly offers an elite independent-school experience, just online, is essential. To do so, I recommend that families take four things into consideration:
  1. Does the school offer an authentic school experience? Look for an online school that provides students with real-time, virtual-classroom seminars in which they interact with instructors and each other in the way they would at a bricks-and-mortar school. This is essential. Avoid online schools that are self-study affairs, in which students essentially spend all day sitting in front of a computer working by themselves.
  2. Is the programme an offering of an accredited independent school? The best online schools are extensions of existing independent schools. These independent schools stand out for their focus on relationships, their development of skills beyond the purely academic, and their understanding of how to prepare students for success in college and in life.
  3. Does the programme provide a personalised and rigorous course of study? Online schooling affords a flexibility that allows for highly personalised learning. Look for a programme that uses the online medium to customise each student’s academic path while still fostering great, lasting relationships between students and teachers. The elite schools provide a concierge-style, personalised approach helpful for families on the move.
  4. Does the programme have regular, integrated residential opportunities? As successful as an online school can be, the potential is there for it to be isolating. The new class of schools will provide opportunities for students to come together on campus, meet each other and their teachers, and live the experiences that are essential components of education.
Finally, one cannot overlook the question of culture. Students are going to be part of their school for upward of several years. Parents should choose a school with the mission of serving their child and a community in which students can forge meaningful friendships.There are numerous programmes that operate as lab schools, as extensions to universities, or as part of larger corporations. The true mission of such programmes, too frequently, is to benefit research interests or to fatten corporate bottom lines.Such programmes are best avoided. What you truly want is a school that exists to serve your child and is designed to ignite his or her individual spark of genius.For further information, visit Dwight Global Online School
The International Guide to Education & Schools is designed to help relocating parents make informed education choices.
  • Employers: Access the free digital guide here, request a free print copy .
  • Relocation professionals: Access the free digital guide here. 
  • Parents: Access the free digital guide here or purchase a print copy here
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