On Friday, I was joined by the WCED’s Superintendent-General, Mr Brent Walters, on a visit to the iBhodi Trust digital classroom to engage with the learners receiving their education online.
The classroom is located at Beacon Hill High School, where an underutilised classroom was renovated and equipped by the Trust for the purpose of online learning. The online curriculum is delivered by the Valenture Institute, including live online lessons from expert teachers and activities and assignments that learners can complete on their own. The model offers flexibility suited to the individual needs of the learners. The learners are also supported in the classroom by an in-person Learning Coach, and benefit from the social interactions of learning online together in a ‘micro-school’.
I was struck by the positive feedback from the learners, who are clearly enjoying this style of learning. And the results speak for themselves, with substantial increases in learner performance from the start of the project to date.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us all to really consider the possibilities of learning online as an educational alternative. The interest generated by the recent launch of UCT Online High School (also in partnership with Valenture), as well as efforts by a number of Western Cape schools to develop an online offering, shows that there is a demand for this type of learning – and the results being delivered by the iBhodi Trust project show that digital schooling is a viable and successful way for children to learn.
As there isn’t current specific legislation for online schools, the WCED is currently investigating ways to develop an enabling legislative and policy environment. Given the long-standing strategic efforts our province has made in eLearning, it is only natural that we should be leading the charge in developing these new online options.
The iBhodi Trust classroom also shows the great value of public-private partnerships, and we look forward to exploring more of these as we investigate the power and possibility of online learning.
Source: Government of South Africa