Many adults enjoy remote work as it significantly expands their job options in a country where your commute could easily span significant kilometres. Yet very few have seriously considered how it could similarly benefit their children or learners of a school going age. The virtual classroom is a strong alternative to the traditional brick-and-mortar school option. Distance Educator, Brainline, says it has never been afraid to push the boundaries of education for the new generation of learners.
‘Innovation has paved the way for an alternative form of education and with the latest technology, Brainline is bridging the gap to accommodate the digital age. In 2019, the focus was on masterclasses to prepare learners for tests and tasks. This year saw the introduction of Brainline Cloud School, the hub of teaching. Here, the focus is on the learner and innovation regarding teaching and facilitation,’ says Coleen Cronje, Brainline Chief Executive Officer.
Cronje says the online programs give their students a blend of both in-person and online instruction. Learners are able to engage in weekly online classes, presented by qualified teachers via video communication technologies and in both Afrikaans and English.
‘Brainline Cloud Teachers present classes online in innovative ways, challenging the status quo of blackboard teaching. These online classes, also recorded and made available for later viewing, break down the invisible walls of traditional teaching by presenting the curriculum in new and exciting ways, bringing the classroom to life, and invigorating the lesson material. In this way, Brainline is revolutionising home education for today’s learner,’ Cronje explains.
The virtual classes are complimentary and an added resource to the set curriculum, at no extra cost to the learner. Cronje says there are a number of positive elements associated with virtual or online classes such as the fact that learners can complete their schoolwork in a learning environment free from distractions. She says the students are also able to work according to their own pace.
‘Virtual classes allow learners to work through courses at the pace most comfortable to them. Online classes foster students that are able to take charge of their education and allow them the freedom to complete schoolwork on a schedule that fits their busy lives. So, whether your child is an athlete, performing artist, volunteer, or works, school is always open, and they can access their courses when they have the time.’
Evan Antonites, Visual Arts Teacher for Grade 10 – 12 says the challenge is to remain relevant to a student that craves instant gratification.
‘In Visual Arts the students join me in my studio, which is my actual art studio. As the classes are presented via video link, I ensure that my angle is set in such a way that the students feel they are actually in my studio. The chat function on the video link provide instant feedback to students and make for constant engagement. I try to be relevant in new VR technologies and virtual tours using Google Arts and Culture for museum visits. In visual arts we will try to do the same but with sites in South Africa.’
He says the role of the traditional teacher is set to change dramatically in the future.
‘Traditional schooling is obsolete. With the development of AR, VR, Big Data and Artificial intelligence, the current education system has no idea how to prepare for the future. Jobs will become obsolete as will the educator. The role of the educator will shift to that of mentor, guiding more than teaching. The student’s role will become of a role-player according to their interests.
Meanwhile, the Cloud School is also geared towards identifying students who might experience difficulty with the curriculum due to an array of factors.
‘Cloud Teachers monitor learner performance throughout the year and intervene where learners who are at risk of failing are identified. We then incorporate these learners into our mentor programme. This is to ensure contact with the parent/ guardian and learner, and personal interaction for those needing more individual attention.’
Brainline continually strives to adopt the latest technologies to remain relevant and innovative, and to develop products to serve client’s changing needs.