Students in remote NSW schools will have a new opportunity to study at a higher level next year. Aurora College, also being called The Virtual Secondary School, is being established as a virtual high school with a focus on science and maths. This is a great initiative building on Australia’s history with remote education but making use of modern technology and teaching techniques – it seems to me this could be characterised as a flipped classroom on an enormous scale.
Students at Aurora College will remain part of their local school community but be able to develop their passion for subjects and courses that a remote school might not be able to fully cater for. Virtual lessons will be backed up by residential schools held twice each year.
Our school will allow students in rural and remote areas to remain in their local school and community while providing the opportunity to study specialist subjects which their home school cannot currently offer. The school will also provide a peer group of students of similar academic ability and interest.
Students will connect with their teachers and classmates through a virtual learning environment, which will include web conferencing software and DEC’s virtual classrooms. Where possible, lessons will be recorded so that students can access lessons at other times.
Our school will offer students expanded career options through innovative programs and strengthened partnerships between schools, TAFE, universities, business and employers. Mentoring opportunities and master classes will be key features of both the online and residential school programs.
Auroroa College will be partially selective and begin taking students in 2015.
While this initiative is rightly aimed at students in remote areas who have limited access to other programs, it seems to me that it’s a concept that should be being closely monitored for more widespread use. Some of the best maths teaching my children have experienced was the distance education provided by Johns Hopkins C TY while we long-term traveled: Top-flight lectures provided via video backed up by Skype calls and email exchanges were a great way to learn. So, if properly executed, I’m expecting great things of Aurora College and would love to see the opportunity for accessing great teachers and mentors spread further over time.
All the virtual details on the The Virtual Secondary School can be found on the Aurora College website.