The combination of live teaching and technology is helping online schools to become mainstream. For those who want to study online, South Africa is ahead of the curve with this offering. Here’s how Teneo applies this two-pronged approach for the benefit of all students.
All schools are using technology in one form or another. The only difference between an online school and a traditional bricks-and-mortar school is that online or eschools teach through technology while traditional schools teach with technology.
This is an important distinction when it comes to preparing students for life as a tertiary student and for the modern workplace.
How Teneo uses technology
For starters, all lessons are made available to students as recordings. The Teneo Live classes follow a timetable and are presented live by a professional teacher whereafter recordings are distributed. The option of Live + Recorded School Format follows a hybrid approach and combines prerecorded lessons for “attending” any time with live classes where students can ask questions and get teacher support.
In a 2023 poll among students, 83% said that they use the recordings because they make it easier to take notes and allow them to revise the work and go over topics they struggle with. Several also indicated that they like the fact that they can view the recordings as slow – or as fast – as they want. Overall, this technology makes for a better online learning experience for a variety of reasons.
The role of teachers in a tech-based online school
Technology will never replace teachers. Instead, it enhances the teaching experience. Think of a typical classroom in a traditional school where students at the front can see a science experiment from close up and therefore benefit more than those at the back. In an online class, there aren’t any back rows; everyone is in the front row, in front of their computer screen, and the student’s experience with online learning is inclusive and engaging.
Teneo’s teachers use technology as a tool to enhance the online learning experience for students by, for instance, adding music and playing videos in slow motion or using replays.
Each of Teneo’s nearly 500 teachers has the same responsibility as a teacher at any other school: to facilitate students’ academic journeys and help them to complete it successfully. As such, their duties are to:
- Create and present accurate and informative content
- Provide guidance and support to students and parents
- Track academic progress
- Evaluate student work
- Communicate regularly with students
- Participate in regular training and professional development
- Be available for parent-teacher meetings
Using technology to help struggling students
Parents are encouraged to monitor attendance and track assignment and test scores to ensure students stay on track with their studies. There are extra curricular programmes for struggling students to assist their classroom learning with our carefully selected external partners, such as Reflective Learning and Eye Brain Gym. Tutors also help to close learning gaps if students need to catch up in certain areas.
“Our strengths lie in our ability to track participation via all the data we have on students’ class attendance and marks. Parents have the ability to monitor the participation and results of their child and allows the parent and student to take proactive steps to help improve,” says Academic Lead, Paula van Berkel.
Why students enjoy learning through technology
When Teneo asked parents of their students, 97% agreed that experience with online learning helps children to become more autonomous. This is especially true of those students who are using recorded lessons and following a flexible timetable that gives them more time for other pursuits and passions like sport or theatre or even a small business or part-time job.
Claude, a parent of one of our students, wrote on HelloPeter: “My son has flourished personally and academically. The teaching methods have taught him time-management skills, self-discipline and the importance of research. In addition, he’s learnt to deal with challenges out of his control and taking accountability for it such as his internet connection and loadshedding issues by ensuring that he communicates such issues with his teachers and the support team on time. Thank you to all for contributing to my son’s education and development.”
Children with learning difficulties appreciate the recorded lessons provided by Teneo, as do those with ADHD. Learners coming from traditional schools where they were bullied or made to feel deeply anxious by classmates or even teachers take comfort in the online space where they feel safe.
Teachers vs tech when it comes to setting and marking exam papers
Teneo’s teachers set all exam papers and mark them. Like live teaching, this is crucial for tracking students’ academic progress and identifying problem areas or students who may be falling behind.
It’s essential that the teacher who teaches a specific subject and class sets the paper. Their knowledge of the curriculum, subject and students allows them to set the exam at the right level and to reflect what the students have been taught. In a country such as South Africa, it also is important to take students’ lived realities into account and use examples or situations that they are familiar with when setting a test or exam.