ONLINE LEARNING PAVES THE WAY FOR THE WORKPLACE OF THE FUTURE
Online learning is creating a digital comfort zone that will be instrumental in the success of students in the workplaces of the future, according to Business Head at the Swales Online Academy, Lauren Jacquin.
The Covid-19 pandemic merely accelerated the trends of working from home and online learning and both these aspects will continue to play an integral role in the work environment. Therefore, when looking considering a high school education that seamlessly pairs with further tertiary education, parents also need to ensure that their children can transition effortlessly into a digitally driven work space, she says.
Online learning will provide important technical and life skills that will enhance career prospects. These include the ability to communicate and research effectively online as well as disciplines such as good time management and self-motivation.
The modern-day scholar is far more technologically driven than the supposed ‘baby boomers’ of yesteryear. Parents and students alike should take into account that the digital landscape and technological era in which we find ourselves changing so fast that it can be difficult to keep up. New job titles are being created daily – titles that one would never have even thought of in the previous eras. Specialised online education allows you to keep pace with this ongoing digital evolution.
However, there is far more to unlocking the true value of online education than simply opening the door to a massive amount of information.
Durban based Swales Online Academy currently offers Grade 4 to Grade 11 learning opportunities, plus additional learning and educational opportunities. Grade 12 to be implemented in 2023. Its goal is to promote self-paced learning and to encourage learners to study any time, any place in the world and in the comfort of their homes, whilst accessing world-class learning resources.
Jacquin points out that Swales’ teachers lead by example and are trained using the ACT approach which is built on a framework of digital-age pedagogies, designed to encourage high levels of activity, plus increased engagement, recall and fun whilst learning.
The ACT pedagogies are Curation, Conversation, Correction, Creation, and Chaos.
“Curation is about encouraging learning by finding, selecting, and arranging content. The conversation is about activating engagement through discussion, debate, and critique. Correction in this context involves positively embracing mistakes and encouraging learning through failing forward. Creation is all about shifting from just consuming content to learning by actually creating content and learning artefacts. Chaos concerns disrupting the boring by using pressure and perception to create higher levels of focus and understanding,” Jacquin explains.
All apply in the working world.
“Engagement is an important part of the Swales Online Academy pedagogy. To ensure that learners are not merely expected to listen and absorb the information being “spoken” to them, our students are encouraged to take part in live lessons by communicating their ideas and opinions as well as by asking questions if there are areas about which they feel unsure,” she says.
Lessons are also structured ensuring interactivity. This is done through presentations that require answers to questions before students are gains access the next slide / page. It also includes participation in games or quizzes that have been created to test the understanding of the content taught and the application of knowledge in real-life scenarios.
“It is essential for online education to get learners actively involved so that they are not merely passive vessels that are unchallenged in this process. Swales Online Academy’s approach to teaching online is holistic in that we not only focus on delivering curriculum content, but also on developing essential skills such as communication, technological ability and application,” she continues.
At Swales, learners in the higher grades are encouraged to form peer groups where they can work together and learn from one another.
When it comes to research, she notes: “We encourage students to curate relevant information from a range of sources, including interviews, videos, news articles, websites and more. This teaches them that there are different ways of obtaining information. We also then teach them how to create their own sources of information through projects, essays, orals, models etc., emphasising the importance of selecting relevant information and expressing it in their own words.”
She believes that it is important to teach students to interpret information and express it using their own words. “Because everything is done online, it is very easy for students to fall into the trap of “copying and pasting” information and presenting it as their own.
Finally, Jacquin notes that the advantages of online learning are never one dimensional and the power of the so-called unseen skills such as good time management, the ability to work independently and flexibility should never be under estimated.
“This is a huge part of working successfully online and is excellent preparation and training for when students leave school,” she says.