Online primary education is one of the fastest-growing areas of public education, with more than 30,000 teachers now on the job.
But many of those are teaching for free, meaning students can’t pay for their own education.
“Online primary education has a number of benefits that students can enjoy,” said Simon, an online primary teacher at a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory.
“It’s more affordable than traditional schooling.
It’s easier to get a degree.
It allows students to work from home, which is really exciting.”
Mr Simon said he could see the benefits of online education as a way to boost school enrolments and help reduce the costs of attendance.
“You can have your students do all the things you normally do in the classroom, and it gives you more students to have in the school, which in turn is good for students,” he said.
The number of students enrolled in primary school in Australia has increased by nearly 100 per cent in the past 10 years.
More than 5 million children now attend schools online.
But what are the advantages of online primary schools?
There are two major advantages to online primary: better retention rates, and a better learning environment.
Online primary schools don’t have a traditional classroom, but instead, students use a virtual classroom to learn together.
“That’s a bit like a chat room,” Mr Simon said.
“Students are encouraged to create content that they’re interested in sharing, and then the teacher creates content and gives it away to students.”
Teachers and teachers’ assistants are often also in the virtual classroom.
“Mr Chapman said online primary teachers often taught the same subjects as traditional teachers, and sometimes even had the same experience.”
We were very good at teaching subjects that students were interested in and making them engage with each other,” he explained.”
Sometimes we’d be teaching some maths and we’d also be teaching English and we might be teaching different languages and we were all able to communicate with each one of those teachers.
“The students were all learning together, so they were learning from the same teacher.”
There are also some benefits to online teaching: students are more likely to get the right content at the right time.
“With online schools, you can do more, and more easily,” Mr Chapman said.
While online education can be a good alternative to traditional schooling, Mr Chapman warns against using it to get kids into more expensive private schools.
“There are some things that you really need to consider when you’re choosing a school,” he warned.
“One of the main things you have to consider is whether you’re going to be using this for education or not, and whether it’s going to give you the quality of education that you’re looking for.”
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