After finishing breakfast and taking a morning stroll with their mum, Angie, age 9 and Kathy, age 12, begin online school each morning around 9am. In the three weeks since they started attending online school, the two American expat children have become more motivated and determined to thrive. “I don’t have to wait for the rest of the class. If I want to get ahead, I can even do some work on the weekends. I like being ahead,” said Kathy. Angie and Kathy are two students who have made the transition from a brick and mortar school environment to a fully accredited US curriculum online school.
The recent Covid-19 pandemic crisis, which led to the closure of brick and mortar facilities, may have been the catalyst for the recent spike in online school enrolments - however, according to Cody Claver, iCademy Middle East’s Managing Director, K-12 online learning has seen double-digit growth annually since 2016. iCademy offers a US-based curriculum and is currently the only accredited online school in the UAE. At the same time, online learning is growing at an even faster rate in both higher education and business training departments across the world. All sectors are discovering that online platforms are extremely cost-effective and can yield better learning outcomes for students of all ages and for various needs.
As millions of children across the world became instant online students during a time of crisis, many are seeing unexpected benefits, prompting parents to consider structured online schooling for their students future learning needs.
Parents who would never have considered taking their children out of bricks-and-mortar schooling have been forced to experience remote learning, and for many it has been a great success. Rumours are even circulating that some of the biggest education groups in the UAE are considering launching a cut-price online school option in the near future as a result.
Among the many benefits to online learning, parents that we have spoken to have found, the three that resonate the most:
Flexibility and Empowerment: Angela and Kathy used to catch their school bus at 6:30am and needed to be seated in their first class at 7.45am. They now wake up and have time for exercise and a well-balanced breakfast before starting their academic day. When the 24-hour lockdown eased, the family took a day trip to Ras Al Khaimah, but no one worried about being marked absent or missing work. “The girls can always make up missed assignments on their weekends or in the evenings. It is their choice and they feel empowered. Having the freedom to fit school into our lifestyle, as opposed to making our lifestyle fit into the structure of school, has been an unforeseen blessing,” said Angie and Kathy’s mother.
The Savings: While there’s no doubt that school fees can be a drain on the wallet, there are a whole host of other costs involved in attending mainstream school that can really add up. Although the fees of online schools like iCademy range from around Dh18,000 to under Dh25,000, they do not require extra costs such as school uniforms, after-school childcare, transportation fees, lunch, and school supplies, which can really add up even if a family is attending a modestly priced bricks-and-mortar school.
21st Century Skills: From proficiency with electronic written communication to learning how to manage workloads and multiple projects independently, online learning is more aligned with the future of a university education and a rapidly increasing number of workplaces across the globe.
- Tabitha Barda is the former Parenting Editor at Gulf News. This article is from the Gulf News Archives.