This pandemic is perhaps offering humanity one of the most potent lessons in history as it has clearly disrupted economic activity across the globe. Now we find educationists also adapting to these sudden changes that have gripped the masses, especially young learners across the planet.
Schooling and education are a vital part of our continued progress in the upcoming era, which is why many institutes are opening innovative ideas, including virtual training.
According to a recent study conducted by Edsurge.com, nearly 300,000 students enrolled themselves across 501 full-time virtual schools during 2017-2018. However, COVID-19 has quickly increased that number as many educational institutions across the globe are adapting to currents requirements and trends to adopt virtual schooling tactics.
In light of this information, let’s take a quick look at ten essential things you will need to establish your very own virtual school system.
1. Adequate Equipment & Tech Requirements
There is no doubt that virtual schools are able to connect people, resources, and share tremendously valuable information with the help of technology. This enables even those students to connect with the learning experiences that are located at remote places.
Hence perhaps the first thing you need to establish for your virtual school system is a range of equipment that can assist your staff and school management in carrying out their operations in a smooth and frictionless manner. This can include:
a. Supported Operating Systems for all of your computing devices.
b. Internet browsers for easy access and surfing the internet for your employees and staff.
c. High-speed internet service providers for terrific internet connections without interruptions.
d. An online portal or school management system for both students and staff to connect and access resources.
e. Internet safety and security measures to keep your databases encrypted and protected from malware and cyber-attacks.
f. Cloud services to make teaching and learning resources to be made available for stakeholders located in remote places.
g. Support and compatibility for common technologies and features such as CSS2/3, Flash, HTML5, and Java, to name a few.
h. Hardware and peripherals in the case where you provide your staff proprietor owned computing devices.
i. Integration of AI, chatbots, machine learning, or virtual assistants that can help school members/users answer queries, fill out forms, or find valuable information online.
However, it should be noted that these are simply basic perquisites, and with higher education requirements for equipment and technology can increase drastically.
2. Building a Curriculum
Obviously, every online class and every subject that you teach at your virtual school needs a robust, well thought out, and comprehensive curriculum that is nothing less than spectacular. Plus, you need to ensure that your school needs to offer a relevant curriculum that is adjusted for present times and has a positive outlook for future trends.
In short, it shouldn’t be something that is outdated; otherwise, all of that will simply be redundant for students in current times. The same goes for your syllabuses and the textbooks and reference books for each course or subject you teach students.
The curriculum should meet student needs, the economic needs of current times, vision, and support in high regard in the intellectual and educational community. There is no point in compromising or choosing a single type of curriculum as then it would only focus on stereotype versions of students.
Remember that the curriculum you choose to offer will either prepare students for the best or hamper their progress in the latter part of their professional years.
3. Establishing Communication Channels
Since a virtual school essentially removes the need for a physical location, classes are held online with the help of information technology serving as the base or foundation of the framework. This support is, however, isn’t the end goal in itself. You need proper communication channels that are shared by your fellow colleagues and the student body as well.
All stakeholders need to be well informed about how communications between them will be established. Online platforms like Trello, Asana, Google Drive, WhatsApp, and other similar technologies can help you communicate and share information efficiently. However, it is the sole decision of the upper management to look into the pros and cons of using such services.
If you do not find yourself comfortable using such services, the school can develop its own proprietor software, application, or database management system to establish a proper and authentic communication channel, which can include email integration for each stakeholder.
It is important to understand here that without an official communication channel, a lot of conflicts can arise, and communication is the key to resolving such concerns in the first place.
4. Designated Workspaces
There is simply no way how this can be emphasized enough; both learning and teaching can effectively take place in a dedicated space that is able to avoid any unnecessary disruptions.
This ensures that both teachers and students in their respective locations can committedly focus on imparting and sharing information in a conducive environment that encourages learning and dwelling on new concepts and themes.
It is important for teachers and students to create a designated space that is easily accessible to them so that they can attend or deliver lectures and yet stay comfortable. An enclosed space where students and teachers can communicate openly without any disturbances is most recommendable.
This will allow speakers and listeners within a discussion to participate with less confusion in the midst of exchanges. Your place of study and delivering lectures must allow interactions and engagements for both students and teachers in a cohesive manner.
This way, online classes will become a lot more interactive, and silence from the surroundings can also help both teachers and students focus on what is being discussed.
5. Laws & Regulations
Each school operates under the influence of a legal body of their locality. This is why if your virtual school requires your approval from the legal department, then this should definitely be treated as priority number one. This may require your venture to be officially registered as a schooling system.
Hence it means you need to study the law of your locality and abide by whatever is mentioned therein. Common legal requirements for setting up a school may include regulatory and legal frameworks such as the law that is applicable to school councils that set up an outside school hours care service.
Then there is the paperwork required to submit to authorities which legalizes and identifies your operations as eligible. So prior to opening your teaching services, as a virtual school owner, you need to look not only into educational requirements but also legislated tasks before you can go ahead and provide your services.
You need to be officially incorporated as a school, and this means you may need to hire lawyer services to get through the entire process without making any absurd or unintentional mistakes.
6. Monitoring Student Progress
Without the ability to monitor students and register their progress, it is evident that such a schooling system will be unable to justify any form of credibility regarding the actual learning that takes place.
People these days are willing to pay through their noses for their children’s education, which makes the schooling systems highly responsible and accountable to ensure that their finances are not just been thrown down the drain.
Tuition fees for higher education classes for that matter are ridiculously high, and as time progresses, more and more parents want to know how the school is ensuring their child’s progress. For starters, the school needs to develop a system that allows them to generate student progress reports.
A lot of thought and research should go into developing such a system so that it is refined and free from shortcomings. For online students, schools can deploy software solutions to record and preserve their students on screen time or simply pull data collected from an online classroom that is in session.
Learning management systems are hence a good choice since they can offer you a lot of insights as to what kind of activity a student commits when they are online.
7. Organizational Culture
You need to treat your school as a professional establishment. A proper institution is what your school should represent, which is why it must have an organizational culture that is infused with work ethics and morals.
There has to be a deeply rooted philosophy behind your culture as well. This will help you promulgate your school’s image in the eyes of the general public and your staff and clients (i.e., students or learners).
Perhaps the single most important benefit an organizational culture would offer your school is allowing your staff members and the student body as well to understand the true purpose behind that establishment. Hence, your school system’s culture needs to be etched in stone and deliver gold standards for whoever wants to evaluate them.
This will also help in brewing loyalty for your institution, where various elements comprising your system can be self-directed and always deliver to the best of their abilities. A healthy and positive work culture for your schooling system will also increase your employees’ productivity and manage their behavior adequately.
8. Policies & Governing Rules
Every company has certain terms and conditions they inform about first to its customer before signing any contracts. Your virtual school system is essentially a service that is provided for those who can avail of them.
Likewise, policies and procedures are undeniably important as they address many pertinent issues and concerns regarding serious concerns and even offenses, which can lead to severe outcomes. Without policies or regulations, both your employees and managers would find it almost impossible to differentiate what is right, acceptable, wrong, and unacceptable.
They can also help in making important decisions in some cases as well as drive employees and employers both to be more consistent in their approach. Hence, policies serve as fundamental guidelines without which there simply cannot be a general plan of action for your school.
So if you were intending to achieve desired outcomes, your policies and imposed regulations serve as a basic yardstick to measure where each individual member of your team or audience lie plus how well has been their performance in recent times.
For instance, an irrevocable policy about attendance ensures that even those who arrive late to class can be penalized.
9. Short Term & Long Term Planning
Think about this in terms of higher education students. With multiple courses within a semester, they plan out their entire weak to ensure more than enough attention is made available to study a subject. For example, many students find chemistry difficult and thus need special assignment assistance.
As a suitable suggestion, you can consider planning not only for a month or week but to develop detailed calendars that showcase daily activities, goals, and targets for each teacher or course instructor. This can also be used to measure progress and jot down various milestones before the year completes itself.
Make sure that your plans and strategies are well adjusted for upcoming trends and insights for your industry. There should always be room for flexibility in your plans to accommodate sudden changes in the learning conditions or enjoinment that are ideal outside your control area.
10. Tracking Employee Productivity
There is a list of various and easily available software that your management or HR can use to track down the productivity levels of your teachers, professors, and lecturers in an online or working from a remote place setting. Applications like Time WizIQ, TickSpot, Timely, and HiveDesk are all great examples.
They keep your management up to date regarding the screen time of your employees and even offer you to snap pictures of their screens at regular intervals. This allows you and your management to easily configure how your teams are utilizing their working hours even when they are not physically present at a school.
Plus, you can ask them to organize their day and create a daily schedule using the aforementioned software so that your management can address issues regarding which task was prioritized and how much time was allocated throughout the day.
Virtual schools are rising in popularity with the passage of time as they offer a range of benefits like remote learning for a wide variety of students and overcoming geographical limitations. With increasingly progressive technologies heavily supporting their development, we might see further advancement in services offered by virtual school systems in the coming years.
Author Bio: Samantha Kaylee currently works as the Head of the Digital Marketing Team at Dissertation Assistance, a platform to acquire professional writing aid from experts. During her free time, she likes to indulge herself in the latest smartphone technologies and anything related to the Internet of Things.