What makes a full online education and how does it work? A webinar with The Bridge School

For globally mobile families, students studying sport or music at elite level, families living and working in unstable environments or in parts of the world where schooling is problematic, the opportunity to study online can be invaluable.

Click on the image above to view the playback video of this webinar

The Bridge School is an international online private school that offers K-12 students a 100% online American education - no matter where they live in the world. Julie Taylor, Head of The Bridge School, Chase Ekelsen of Verano Learning Partners and Nikki Hofman of Strong Mind discuss in a thought-provoking and insightful webinar what makes an online school different.Julie Taylor and Chase Ekelsen then join Fiona Murchie, Managing Editor Relocate Magazine and journalist Marianne Curphey in a live interview to discuss how Covid-19 has changed the way people view online education, and the exciting opportunities ahead for digital learning for schools and students.

What makes a full online education and how does it work? 

As a result of the pandemic, a majority of schools around the globe have had to implement some type of “distance learning”. What might have been seen as forward-looking or futuristic became the norm for many pupils who spent lockdown around in the world participating in online school. However, not all digital learning is created equally, and while some schools adapted well, others struggled to make online school accessible or stimulating, In the webinar the team explains what makes a successful online school and the components that are needed. Julie Taylor, MBA, Head of School of The Bridge school, is a true pioneer in online education, Julie was a key administrator for one of the largest online K-12 schools in the nation.  Julie and her team successfully led the school through technology breakthroughs, lobbying efforts, and a successful accreditation process, all while online learning was in its infancy.Chase Eskelsen, Chief of Staff at Verano began his educational career as an administrator of the Texas Virtual Academy (grades K-12) and then helped launch a new school, Texas Online Preparatory Academy (grades K-12). He now works for an education non-profit, Verano Learning Partners, as the Chief of Staff. The Verano team is currently opening new schools worldwide.Nikki Hofmann works at StrongMind, as the Director of Academics, Operations for Educational School Services (ESS). The ESS StrongMind team has been tasked to build up and launch new, innovative school models across the nation that fit each individual area’s demographics and needs.

Not just five hours of Zoom meetings – what a real online education looks like

Julie Taylor explains the benefits of a fully online education, where the curriculum has been constructed carefully to include multi-media learning, project-based learning, videos, text, interactive and games-based learning and checkpoints to gauge whether students have mastered the topics.While fully online school used to be seen as a niche, the pandemic has moved it mainstream, with the opportunity for a fully online model or a hybrid system that might involve a physical campus but the opportunity for all lessons to be delivered effectively online if and when appropriate.The team discuss how online schools are able to capture more academic and assessment data, freeing up teachers from the heavy workload of marking written work and giving them more time to teach and attend to the bespoke needs of individual pupils. This can help to drive future student achievement because any gaps in knowledge can be quickly spotted and help provided for the student.

Catering to the needs of individual students

In the live Q&A session Julie Taylor goes deeper into how the fully online system works, and how it enables teachers to look at the data on students and assist them where they need most help. She explains how online school can enable students to have the same level of success that they would in a bricks and mortar school.Part of the support for parents and teachers is a week-long training session to help them understand how they and their students can best use the online school curriculum and how they can support their children even while they themselves may be working from home or nearby.“At the beginning of the school year really helping them to understand how to work from home successfully,” she says. “How you can balance your home duties with your work duties and not feel you are working 15 hours a day. That’s a common theme that people who are just coming into the working at home arena feel.” This might involve setting aside chunks of the day to work on specific work projects, as well has having designated time to attend to the needs of your children. “Have a plan at the beginning of the week on what you are going to be working on each day.”Chase Ekelsen explains how important it is not to lose the human element, and how it is possible to create partnerships when there are enough students in the local area to join up together. For example, a major ballet company in the United States has partnered with Verano and all the ballerinas are benefitting from an online education by joining with the Bridge School but also getting in person time in Texas. Likewise, a basketball league in Ireland was able to make the most of the online opportunities for studying.

A key for recruiting and retaining top international talent

Fiona Murchie, managing editor of Relocate Global, explains how employers might be interested in a digital version of school and how might it help globally mobile families in a number of different ways. This could include assignments where students need to leave in the middle of the school year, or to provide continuity for families where a parent is on a short-term assignment.It might also form part of a package in terms of repatriation, a schooling stop-gap or a way of retain top talent and their families, she said.Getting out the message that there was an alternative was a really important step for employers, she said. 

Meet the speakers

Find out more about all of the speakers and panelists who participated in the autumn 2020 Great International Education & Schools Fair.

Find the perfect school from the comfort of your home

Now is the ideal time to discover the right school for your child. As schools hosted Open Days and Virtual Events throughout the autumn, we used the opportunity throughout November to showcase the schools around the world that welcome relocating families and international students, not only at the beginning of a new academic year, but also at any time, with rolling admissions to meet the needs of families on the move.

The next Great International Education & Schools' Fair is coming in spring 2021

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