Invictus Family's "Virtual Campus" Insights by International School Principal Dr Nicholas Duggan

Invictus Family "Virtual Campus" insights by International School Principal Dr Nicholas Duggan.

Would you ever consider home schooling your child if you had access to high-quality and affordable International education with the click of your mouse?

Introducing Invictus Family – an online international school “Virtual Campus” offering full-time home-based learning to students for just US $4,000 per year.

The Invictus Family curriculum is conducted by qualified teachers who will conduct daily classes with structured daily timetables like a physical school.

We chat to Invictus Family Principal, Dr Nicholas Duggan, to learn more about this latest innovation looking to shake up the International School education model in Asia.

Q. Why would/should someone choose a virtual school for their child?

A. There are a number of reasons for choosing virtual learning. The most obvious is the cost, which means students can access a quality Invictus International School education for considerably less than the on campus full-time study option.

But other important factors include learning style. For some students, learning in a virtual classroom may suit the style and pace of learning, which requires greater independent learning skills. Convenience is another key factor in choosing virtual learning. It may just be that due to the geographical location of students, it may not be possible or practical to travel to study.

 Q. Are you offering live sessions, and how is this timetabled if students are living in different countries/time zones? 

 A. Yes, perhaps more than any other virtual platform, we provide synchronous (live) learning for the vast majority of the schedule. Many platforms depend heavily on Asynchronous (on demand) learning which removes much of the live interaction that Invictus family feel is so important. 

Ours are based in one time zone however,  as we expand our offerings, teachers will be able to offer more flexible hours to ensure reasonable learning hours, especially for younger students.

Q. Do online school students have opportunities to socialise? Are there opportunities for social interaction?

A. They certainly do, all be in real-time through video meets and chats. If students are in similar locations, they will have the opportunity to make contact and become friends, but this is at the discretion of the parents.

Q. What is the student/teacher ratio in a virtual class? How can a virtual school offer students the type of teacher feedback they would get in a classroom?

A. We operate the same numbers as our onsite schools 1:25. When you think about it, a teacher in a classroom is either presenting to class, or moving around groups of students with assigned work, perhaps grouped by ability level, or speaking individually with one student. This is exactly the same using Video conferencing with options for private conversations which the teacher controls.

Q. Who are your teachers, and have they received any additional training in how to deliver online learning?

A. Our teachers are trained and qualified to teach in schools and join us with good curriculum experience. They have already received training for virtual learning, bearing in mind not every teacher is suited to Virtual Teaching in the same way not every student is suited. As a school, we provide continuous professional development (CPD) designed around the needs of teachers to deliver the best educational experiences.

Q. How can you offer practical subjects such as art, music and sport?

A. As a school that promotes a holistic approach to education, we feel these areas are extremely important – even more so in a virtual school context. We ensure, firstly that students have the right tools and space to do these subjects, and then either guided by the specialist teacher or sharing a Video with the student, the teacher at the same time is able to monitor, advise and assess. Where needed images, music files and PE Videos of student work is shared with the teacher for grading.

Q. Does virtual schooling require greater involvement from the parent?

A. Inevitably there is some further involvement for the younger children. At a certain age, children are not able to self-regulate and the parent will need to help the teacher prior to and with any follow-up directions. However, during the instruction and monitored work online, the parent is not involved.

Q. Will you continue to offer the virtual school for the 2020-21 academic year? Can students choose to switch from your virtual school to one of your physical campuses at any time in the future?

A. Yes, Invictus family is a long term project and yes, subject to space, students can apply to a physical campus. All assessments, reports and student files are transferred to the new campus, however the standard application procedure applies as with applying for any new school.

Q. Is the school accredited for online learning? 

A. At Invictus Family, we offer the UK National English curriculum with Singapore Mathematics. There's no specific accreditation for virtual platforms. Accreditation is a process of quality assurance and the question is really about how good we are as an educational provider. Firstly, our documentation for online learning covers the rights and responsibilities of the students, teachers and parents, so expectations are clear and can be addressed if issues arise. We also advise and ensure good school practice which includes online policies for safeguarding. Finally, Invictus International School is a fast growing professional learning community that has checks and balances in place for quality learning. These same systems are transferred to our virtual school and is therefore very much an extension of what we already do well.

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