17 Mar #Vlaanderenhelpt #Flandershelps
Virtual school helps teachers retrain to become online teachers in these challenging times
The coronavirus crisis has a huge impact on education. Fortunately, distance learning can provide an excellent alternative. But teaching in a virtual classroom and teaching in a real-life classroom are two different things. Private players such as D-Teach, expert in distance learning, are stepping up and willing to share their expertise. For D-Teach, the teachers always come first: once teachers have mastered the right online skills, they can pass on their passion for learning just as well in a virtual classroom.
D-Teach stands for Distance Teaching. D-Teach has been offering online learning for children and young people in primary and secondary education since 2012. At present, the students are mainly Flemish young people who are living abroad and want to (re-)integrate in local Flemish or foreign education. D-Teach thus forms a bridge between education abroad and Flanders.
To make the learning experience as attractive and effective as possible, D-Teach uses online blended learning: a combination of both synchronous learning (interactive online classes with whiteboard) and asynchronous learning (e-learning environments, videos, online games, forums, etc.). Founder Lieselot Declercq: “Our online teachers are all certified teachers in Flemish education and on top of that, they have received intensive training in e-coaching. This allows them to deal with technological, pedagogical and didactic principles of blended learning”.
D-Teach currently works with a multidisciplinary team of 35 online teachers, including nursery, primary and secondary school teachers as well as educational pedagogues, speech therapists and psychologists. As a pioneer in distance learning, D-Teach has already gained extensive expertise. Thus, D-Teach has been collaborating for years with other virtual schools, e.g. in Australia, and with local universities. In addition to a high-performing online infrastructure, the most important recurring critical success factor is having teachers with excellent online skills.
Researcher Maaike Grammens: “That’s why D-Teach is currently developing an online educational model, supported by VLAIO, the Flemish Agency for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. In collaboration with Ghent University I’m doing doctoral research to develop a training program for synchronous online teachers, which is quite unique in Flanders and even in the world”.
This unique model will certainly come in handy during the coronavirus crisis, as D-Teach firmly believes in “the power and training of teachers so as to guarantee high-quality education, even in the most difficult crises”. D-Teach is happy to share its expertise in a community of teachers who want to explore didactic tips for online teaching. Lieselot Declercq: “Interaction is key in online teaching. Young people otherwise tend to drop out and one quickly jumps to the conclusion that online learning doesn’t work. We want to prevent this by encouraging each other, putting the safety of everyone first by teaching at home and creating a community of motivated online teachers”.
Anyone who is interested in online teaching can join D-Teach’s facebook group Distance Teaching Tips (https://www.facebook.com/groups/234463930923801/). In just two days, almost 2,000 visitors have already shown interest.