According to a report published by UNESCO, 1.5 billion children and youth were affected by school closures globally due to Covid-19 in April 2020.
This opened new pathways for online education in India. Many teachers unexpectedly found themselves teaching in virtual online classes without any experience using online teaching platforms and tools or distance learning.
Teachers had to adapt to the new online school curriculum and technology in a very short period. Though the advantages of online schooling have been a much-debated topic, in reality, these online school courses prevented an education catastrophe.
In this article, we will address how online virtual learning has acted as a catalyst in the professional development of teachers and how to implement successful school online education initiatives for teachers.
A virtual school is an opportunity to transform a teacher's practice
Research has shown that teachers often follow the same teaching methodology as they were taught. Therefore, all teachers are not qualified to teach online since most have been educated in conventional face-to-face classrooms. Online courses require a different approach to pedagogy and teacher-student communication to benefit students. Professional development of teachers in the online school system has the potential to equip them with the necessary experience to modify their teaching practice to provide students with interactive and content-rich courses.
A virtual school is an opportunity for teachers to enhance their technology skills
The best online school programs are taught by tech-savvy teachers who are comfortable working with the latest online teaching tools and technology. Online educators are aware of the latest technological innovations like learning management systems (LMS), tools for data visualization, spreadsheets and pivot tables for analysis, and online education technology platforms. Using technology on a regular basis aids in the professional development of these educators. Virtual schools help online instructors polish and master teaching skills and subject knowledge and prepare them to engage in a constant learning process as situations change and technology evolves.
A virtual school gives teachers opportunities to develop strong communication skills
Online virtual school learning is relatively new. Educators with friendly, clear communication skills help students and their parents who are still adapting to the online alternative to traditional teaching. A big part of the online school curriculum is the teachers' communication with students. Since the teacher and students do not connect in person, teachers connect with students via email, texting, video conferencing, and phone calls to assist them. Regular and proactive feedback is also critical for the success of the students in school online learning. Teachers evaluate students' performances and provide constructive feedback in many different ways. These processes enable teachers to build strong communication skills, which are crucial for their professional development.
Virtual schools help teachers better their creativity
The best online curriculum does not teach students but initiates the process of learning. This mode of teaching requires teachers who can think outside of the box and satisfy a student's curiosity. The best home schools create opportunities for online educators to creatively innovate and design engaging learning experiences for the success of their students. Utilizing online learning technology creatively through a blend of live virtual instruction, personalized assignments, and project-based activities can be more effective than traditional classroom teaching.
Virtual schools offer teachers the opportunity to become a part of a community of professionals
Compared with the traditional classroom teaching methodology, online school study can be structured in various forms and has the benefits of convenience and scalability. The anytime/anywhere feature that an online school program offers to add richly to teachers' professional development. Different educators have different needs based on various factors, including the school or online virtual academy in which they teach, the students they teach, their career stage, and their previous work and personal experiences. Different virtual teaching platforms enable storing and tagging vast amounts of data which other educators can utilize to create their own teaching resources. These online exchanges and interactions exploit the possible collaboration between teaching professionals. This community can be critical to the professional development and advancement of teachers.
Virtual schools have the potential to enable equity and access for all students. They act as a bridge between traditional schools and online learning. Virtual schools offer teachers flexibility and the potential to build a community and drive retention by enabling them to be involved in their own professional development and career growth.