International schools provide expatriate children with a means of continuity with the education system and curriculum that they were already undergoing in their home countries before relocating. By extension, they also serve as a bridge connecting them to their home culture, values and worldviews. At the same time, these cosmopolitan ‘mini global villages’ also impart multi-perspectives on global issues, and offer their students a plethora of opportunities for intercultural exchange and collaboration.
With the proliferation of Information & Communication Technology, many international schools are already making digital resources (content, software, tools) widely available for their students and staff in the push towards online learning.
But there’s more that can be harnessed in online learning - via virtual collaboration rooms.
Virtual Learning, Real Benefits
Essentially, ‘live’ virtual collaboration classrooms facilitate real-time remote learning at a click of the mouse, while preserving the value of ‘live’ face-to-face interaction between teacher and student.
Through virtual collaboration rooms, learning and collaboration can take place anywhere, any time. Useful online resources can also be pre-selected and integrated into online classes seamlessly to augment the learning impact.
But there are even more advantages of using virtual collaboration rooms that are distinct to international schools.
1. Subjects unlimited
Currently, the subjects offered by an international school could be limited by the availability of teachers locally. Because of economies of scale, they are also likely to cater to the needs and interests of the majority of the students.
With the use of virtual collaboration rooms for teaching, relevant subject specialists can be sourced from overseas in a very cost-efficient way. As such, the school will be able to offer uncommon subjects (such as GCSE Classical Civilisation) to even the one or few students who wish to take them up. Virtual learning also makes scheduling of these classes very flexible.
2. International experts, locally deployed virtually
When teachers can be sourced internationally for local virtual deployment, international schools can literally hire the best ones from around the world for any subject for their students.
3. A boost for teacher training
Typically, teacher training in international schools can only be conducted outside school terms as it involves sending teachers overseas for one to two weeks. This inevitably encroaches into the teachers’ own holiday, which can further pose scheduling issues for training.
Moreover, non-training specific expenses such as air tickets, accommodation and meals often take up a huge proportion of the total overseas training budget.
Virtual collaboration rooms will enable more timely, bite-sized teacher training to be conducted throughout the school term, and free up school holidays for the teachers. The money saved from flying overseas can also be put to better use to upgrade the teachers’ professional skills directly.
4. Multi campuses, one global learning community
For international schools with branches spanning across a few counties, virtual collaboration rooms will enable teacher expertise to be shared across campuses. Through facilitating the sharing of information and resources with their fellow schoolmates in other parts of the world, schools will be able to encourage students towards more proactive, self-directed learning.
International schools can also come up with new and enriching learning opportunities for their students that simulate real-life, 21st-century intercultural communication, interaction, debate and exchange. Such multi-country collaboration and research projects, and even service learning projects can all be facilitated by virtual collaboration rooms.
5. Learn safely
With so many new possibilities for learning opened up by virtual collaboration rooms, one might think that school hours will be lengthened. On the contrary! Students no longer have to stay back in school after dismissal time just to discuss project work with their classmates. In the comfort of their homes, their classmates are, literally, just one virtual collaboration room away! So, while they get their learning done, their parents get peace of mind too!
Join the learning revolution today
Virtual collaboration rooms that are well designed for optimal user-friendliness and interactivity is taking online learning one big step forward by replicating the classroom learning experience beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. Now’s the time for international schools to grab hold of the infinite possibilities that virtual learning offers!