Many parents are nervous to send their children back to school during the Covid-19 pandemic, yet the fear of the loss of the academic year is a real one too

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, some parents are investigating online learning options for their children – either at their current school or at one of the new online educational institutions popping up all over the internet since lockdown was introduced in March.

Enter another option: Hybrid learning

Hybrid learning combines face-to-face and online teaching into one seamless learning experience. At some schools in SA, a percentage of the class attends lessons on campus, while the rest of the learners remain at home, working online. Some schools offer the learner the option of studying at home (via live streamed lessons or notes) and coming into school for pracs (like art or drama), and to write tests and exams.

Hybrid learning offers some unique opportunities, but teachers need to be trained to identify how online and face-to-face teaching can be implemented to work cohesively.

Is ‘hybrid’ the same as ‘blended’ learning?

Nope. You may have heard the words “hybrid” and “blended” being used interchangeably, but they mean different things. That difference lies mainly in the PROPORTION of face-to-face and online sessions. Hybrid is a more equal split between the two, whereas blended refers to mostly traditional face-to-face teaching, with a few online lessons thrown into the mix. (This can be more accurately described as ‘web enhanced’ teaching.)

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Will blended learning be the norm in the future of school education?
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That leaves us with the last method of non-traditional teaching: 100% online learning

If you register your child at an online educational institution, all their instruction will take place online, and can include face-to-face teaching, interaction with other learners in a ‘virtual classroom’ as well group activities.

Online learning can work really well for a child who is stimulated by independent exploration, is highly tech literate or passionate about technology, (most teenagers) and enjoys innovative ways of teaching. The learner is exposed to more videos, links to content and can complete assignments in their own time – and in their home environment. Online discussion forums may be less intimidating than speaking in front of their peers in a face-to-face physical classroom.

Whatever option you choose for your child or children, it’s becoming clearer that technology is queen of the teaching environment at the moment – for those who can afford access to devices and data

These are some of the online education options available in SA

SPARK Schools have an Online Home Learning portal, with live lessons online, for those parents who want to keep their children home and have access to data. They also provide material via WhatsApp and paper-based Home Learning packs that parents can collect from the school for those parents with limited or no access to data,” says CEO Stacey Brewer. To find out more visit their website.

Curro Online: If you enrol your child at Curro Online, they have access to the extra-curricular activities offered at your nearest physical Curro School, and can play sport or debate, sing, dance and act with other Curro learners. Find out how to enrol your Grade 4 to Grade 9 child with Curro Online here.

TENEO Education: Affordable private education for Grades 4-12, Teneo School’s experienced teachers are passionate about delivering structured learning through the digital medium. Available in both English and Afrikaans, enjoy quality education from the safety of your own home. Like a regular school, they offer timetabled classes, independent study, learning structure and assignments, while qualified teachers interact with our students during live lessons and other digital channels. Find out more here.

Related: Introducing Curro Online: Now qualified teachers can teach your child – via the internet

Distance learning online education webpage
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Whatever option you choose for your child or children, it’s becoming clearer that technology is queen of the teaching environment at the moment – for those who can afford access to devices and data

Schools are making use of some exciting options for those learners at school, but who are missing out on field trips and excursions.

For example, Skype in the Classroom uses online connections to create a platform to attend virtual field trips, visit other classrooms around the world (and play Mystery Skype), have guest speakers join your classroom and have fun working on collaborative projects with other students.

The future is online – and it seems Covid-19 has accelerated the process (for those who can afford it).

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