The growth of online education has had multiple organisations spruce up offering education over e-learning platforms. While we’d like to believe that all the available online school are out there for the genuine cause of education, there are certain elements that should be non-negotiables for a parent, to ensure their child gets the desired level of education, in a safe and structured environment.
Some online schools offer a mix of live and self-paced programs, while some offer self-paced only. Some online schools have a highly trained faculty, with in-house developed curriculum, constantly updated to match children needs and feedback, while some have opted for collaborations with freelance faculties, or structuring off-the-shelf curriculum. Some have a one block fee structure, while others have activity-based fee structures,
Moreover, some schools are aptly clear that they do not have any affiliations, or accreditations, and let students appear for affiliated assessments independently. Some also choose not to have any collaborative classroom sessions built-in, and it may leave your child completely cut off from a desired socially centered education process.
Below are a few things that parents should look out for during the admissions process:
Transparency in fee
Online schools tend to include elements which are otherwise not present in an offline school. Technology, learning material and other online school specific materials are an added feature and are included as part of the child’s education.
While most schools have the entire fee structure stated on their websites, there is a tendency for added costs to spring up once you have committed to the admission and have paid the tuition fee.
Ensure that at the stage of admissions finalisation, you ask the admissions representative for an entire list of fee and itemised fee structure for the entire year. In-case you do not get a clear answer, do know that the school is not being transparent about the fee, and non-payment of such amounts during the middle of the academic sessions will render your child without a holistic learning process.
Look, and ask for fees pertaining to items such as:
- Technology fee
- LMS fee
- Tech platform fee
- Learning kit fee
- Additional language fee
- Extra-curricular fee
Having clarity on the fee structure will help you structure your child’s education budget in advance and save any surprises in the future.
Possibly one of the most important aspects, look out for accredited and affiliated schools. Ask for proper proofs if you feel the need to. Ensure that affiliation will drive assessments, which have a direct bearing on the child’s future acceptability in other educational institutions.
While most online schools in India stress that the school pedagogy ensures that the education process is as streamlined as that in a physical classroom, the actual pedagogic elements could differ.
In the name of fully live classes, online schools may end up:
- Combining multiple sections, which may minimise the attention your child deserves.
- Including a heavy load of self-paced, or pre-recorded classes as compared to the live classes promised.
- Having a faculty set that indulges a monologue online lectures, which may leave children uninterested and lost.
Concerns that may also arise in a physical school going online in the pandemic.
However, the specialty of an online only school or an e-learning platform is to mitigate all these shortcomings and ensure their time is fully dedicated to making the classroom engaging, live, and collaborative, and have an edge over physical schools acting online in the pandemic. Request for a demo class, and request if you can speak to teachers before you admit your ward.
Teaching Staff – numbers and qualifications
Online only schools need to focus on ensuring online education at par, or better than the physical classroom education. In doing so, the role of the classroom educator becomes pivotal, and is of vital importance.
While evaluating an online school, ask for access to teachers, or attend a demo class by the teacher. None of the teachers in the current world were trained to be online teachers. Most of them are learning as they go.
However, the online school system should’ve put in enough training hours, and interventions to ensure that the online schoolteacher is following methodologies suited to online education, and not merely adjusting the physical classroom techniques.
A basic deep understanding of learning methods such as Inquiry based learning or making online class interactive should be present with the teachers, on the back of fundamental educational qualifications.
Moreover, what also needs to be ensured is that the online school has enough educators on-roll to cater to all desired classes. Student teacher ratio becomes imperative here – it will drive the attention your ward gets, and how interactive a class can be.
A low student-teacher ratio will also ensure that your ward is not lost, and the teacher can track the progress for your ward, give desired feedback, and design proper interventions as and when required. For primary classes, look for a student teacher ratio of around at the most 15 / 20 : 1.
While the above are just guiding points in terms of what to look for in an online school during admissions, you may have as many conversations as possible and questions with the admissions representative before you finalise your decision.
Some of the other aspects you should ask the admissions representative can be around:
- Transfer of credits / transfer to another school
- Assessment intervals
- PTMs and on demand PTMs
- Point of contacts
- Responsiveness of staff and teachers
- Robustness of tech systems
- Training material on technology and other literature on school details
Ensure you have fully gone through the school’s website, read online reviews, have spoken to a few present / past students and have been given a chance to undergo demo classes – areas which will help you to be assured of your child’s education and future.