Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Australian Virtual Schooling

Grattan Institute's report , "Turning around schools: it can be done", suggests schools can learning from each other and teachers observe each other's classrooms. This is not new or radical, it is a standard part of what teachers do. I suggest we need some more radical measures to improve Australia education, which can come from the existing practices of one sector of Australian education: Distance Education.

The NT and Queensland education departments have centres which support remote students. This is not so radical as it is a modern Internet version of the School of the Air. However, in addition to supporting individual distance education students at home, they also supports teachers in Community Schools in remote areas and students in larger regional schools which can't have a teacher for each specialist subject. The centres provide online materials and remote teaching to support to the local classroom teachers. This blended mode of education provides the student with a local teacher and a class, plus remote specialist support. I suggest this approach could be applied more generally, to support both the students and the teachers. We should get away from the idea of an isolated classroom with one teacher.

Kapitzke and  Pendergast (2005) report positively on the early trials of the Queensland Education Department's Virtual Schooling Service, which provides both distance education to students in the home and support for students in the classroom in remote schools. While they argue that new pedagogy is needed, there does not appear to have been a development of this, with the Virtual Schooling continuing to be run as first envisaged.

Australia’s Northern Territory Open Education Centre (NTOEC, 2014) provides distance education to students at home. NTOEC also supports teachers in Community Schools in remote areas. This mode of education provides the student with a local teacher and a class for cultural awareness and group activities, as well as remote teaching for specialist subjects.


Kapitzke, C., & Pendergast, D. (2005). Virtual Schooling Service: Productive Pedagogies or Pedagogical Possibilities?. Teachers College Record, 107(8), 1626-1651.Retrieved from

NTOEC, (2014). 2014 Subject and Enrolment Handbook. Darwin, Northern Territory: Northern Territory Open Education Centre. Retrieved from

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