Going to school is considered for children a major step into the social and public sphere. However, traditional schools aren’t always adapted to the children’s situation or simply don’t suit everyone. That’s why, in some cases, learning from home can be a more appropriate solution.
I Alternative schools
1 Online schools
In Australia, the children who grow up in the Outback live in isolated communities, far away from cities and schools. However, they can attend the Alice Springs School of the Air (ASSOA). The first ASSOA lessons were sent through a radio link in 1951 but the classes today are conducted through satellite technology and the Internet.
There are only about 120 students and 12 teachers at the ASSOA but its classroom, spread all over the country, is more than 1.3 million km²! Its students follow the national curriculum and thus get the same learning as all Australian children.
Online schools can also be found in other areas where children cannot easily attend a traditional school. This is the case, for instance, in Hawaii, especially for elementary and high school students who live on isolated islands. They can take free online courses from home and communicate with their teachers and classmates on line using their computer and webcam.
For some parents, educating their children from home, even when there is a traditional school next door, is an educational choice. They choose homeschooling for many different reasons: their child’s school refusal sometimes due to school bullying, their child’s health or learning issues, or their concerns about safety, religion or educational values.
• the Outback: the desert areas of Australia, especially in central Australia
• to bully: harceler
• a concern: une préoccupation
• a trend: une tendance
Today, more and more parents choose to homeschool their children, especially in the United States where that trend originated. There were 850,000 homeschooled American children in 1999 and it will soon reach 2 million, which represents 3.4% of US students.
II Online university courses
Learning from home doesn’t only concern elementary and secondary school children. Access to higher education may also be a problem for many students who cannot go away from home; others are not willing to take loans and be in debt when facing huge tuition fees and the growing cost of university.
1 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
MOOCs are a way to have access to high quality courses online with all sorts of universities and colleges, even the most prestigious ones. They offer another way of learning in a network world and gather hundreds or sometimes even thousands of participants around a special topic.
MOOCs started in 2006 and have now developed into interactive courses with online quizzes and assessments as well as forums to help interaction between students and professors. Most of all, they are usually free or very cheap. However, they don’t usually give students a certified degree or qualification.
2 Distance learning programmes
• to provide: fournir
• undergraduate: de 1er cycle
• postgraduate: de 3e cycle
Students who want to study from home can also choose the distance learning programmes which many universities provide. They can thus get a degree at their own pace while reducing the cost of university.
Today, 270,000 undergraduate and 108,000 postgraduate students study that way in the UK. In the USA, in 2016, 6.3 million students took at least one online course and 2.9 million enrolled exclusively in online courses. These numbers have been increasing for 14 years now… and will probably continue to rise.