Potential for online learning platforms

Hannah Bartlett,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 5:39a.m.

A lot of work will need to be done to ensure online learning platforms make the grade when it comes to children's development.

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Psychologist Sara Chatwin said new legislation which could see school-age students exempt from attending school in favour of full-time online courses, has a lot of unknowns.

"There are a lot T's that need to be crossed and I's dotted. The policing of students, the work that they're putting in, who is actually completing the work."

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Ms Chatwin said online learning does give more options for home education, for students who may have mobility issues, but there will need to be in-depth discussion about how to apply it.

She said online learning shouldn't be the only way children are taught - as education is about more than the ABCs.

"It's about having direct communication and contact with others. It's about being part of a group. It's about relating to your age peers, to your cohorts. There are so many things that being part of a classroom environment gives to a student."

Ms Chatwin said adequate policing would be needed to ensure children with learning difficulties or unstable home environments don't slip through the cracks.

Auckland Home Educators' Natalie Donaldson said online learning has advantages - but it's probably better as a part-time learning platform regardless of whether it's used in schools or at home.

"That would be fantastic for home schoolers to be able to go along and say, hey I'd like my kids to learn Maori or something like that and to go book in for an online course, do that course, while the rest of the schooling was still being monitored by the parents in the style that they want."

She said if children were being entirely taught online there'd need strong support systems around them.

"Then you'd definitely need a family that's committed to ensuring the broader aspects of education are being met and those could be just within the family. Maybe there are brothers and sisters and community family activities that family's involved in."

The legislation will go before a select committee and be open for submissions at a later date.



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