Education Anywhere Anytime Anyone

Introduction on Structure of Online School – Affiliations

Online schooling in India is a relatively new concept, which has received a fillip due to the onset of efficient and mature digital channels.

While the new education policy promotes the online platform-based approach in the education system, online schooling has gained much needed credibility even from the government authorities.

The biggest advantage of online education is the ability to access a wide variety of curriculum anytime, anywhere, and in a manner and time-frame suitable to the student. The opening up of the digital medium helps any student gain access to a wide variety of curriculum and subjects from across the world.

Today, online learning platforms are offering subjects via affiliations from recognised and mandated bodies across curriculums such as:

Overview

        1. The American curriculum is offered across the globe via accreditation from six authorities such as those including the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS), and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
        2. The accreditation bodies mandate that all the curriculums and the subjects are aligned and in-line with the American state standards (Common Core State Standards), or the AERO common core plus standards.
        3. In addition, for schools operating outside the core Americas can design the curriculum in line with the standards of the host country
    • How American curriculum is delivered online globally and by whom?
        1. What needs to be noted is that several online schools exist in the American mainland and internationally that impart mandated and accredited courses for the American curriculum.
        2. These schools include:
          • American High School
          • The Keystone School
          • ISBerne Online
          • The Bridge School
        3. A point to note here is that the Indian online platform ecosystem only includes accredited physical schools which are imparting online education to augment the physical classroom process
        4. However, online only schools have partnered with the schools such as the Keystone school, and organizations such as Stride Inc., which enables them to bring the American curriculum to Indian students over the online channel
        5. In our view, this is a credible approach, and one that enables a student’s exposure to proven models of education via partnership with leading American online only schools.
        6. A point to be highlighted here is that some online only schools have partnered with Stride Inc. to impart American curriculum online. 
        7. Since 2000, Stride, Inc. has been a leader in online education and blended learning, putting quality hands-on and online curriculum directly into the homes of the students and families. Stride, Inc is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and was formerly known as K12 Inc. (“Stride, Inc. USA – 21K School – India’s First Online School”)
        8. Stride today serves more than 1 million students around the world, predominantly in the United States. For more than a decade it has been providing educational products and services in more than 100 countries around the world. (“Stride, Inc. USA – 21K School – India’s First Online School”)
    • American curriculum structure in the online world
        1. In the Physical world, three stages exist for the American curriculum i.e., Elementary School, Middle School and High School. In Elementary School, cover those aged 4 to 11, primary grades cover those up to grade 5, and those aged 11 to 14 cover the grade 6 to 8 of the middle school. High school continues till age 18, essentially covering grades 9 to 12. 
        2. In the online world however, an added option of dual diploma is also offered, which helps students cover certain college level credits, which gives them an edge over other college eligible peers, having already covered advanced courses. The advantages that such a construct enables is that students earn a college credit and high school credit for the same coursework and save time in a post-secondary degree program by completing credit hours in high school. 
        3. Various online schools offer subjects such as math, arts & crafts, sciences, SST, and languages. Another subject tenet is the inclusion of physical education, tech, performing and visual arts and foreign languages of choice. 
        4. Online schools imparting American curriculum do not focus on term based, or unit-based assessments. Rather the focus is placed on a holistic and ongoing assessment technique which involves student grading through class participation, written assignments, peer reviews, quizzes, project-based learning, and group assignments. A clear focus is made on the educator being able to identify and reflect on a student’s strengths and weaknesses, and create specialized learning plans to collate the progress, something that can also be submitted to universities later as well.
        5. While physical education is a key part of any American curriculum, keeping in mind the online nature, online only schools have designed the online physical education (OLPE) classes which provide a channel for physical growth, teamwork, collaboration, fitness, and health management.
    • Recognition
      1. Even in online setup, the completion of high school warrants a high school diploma, or a dual degree diploma as chosen by students. The diploma is also recognized as a pre-university qualification across the world. The stress here is on achieving the desired credits from grade 9 to 12, which also opens doors for competitive standardized examinations such as the SAT, PSAT, and ACT for certain specific courses in college. 
    • Overview
        1. Online Schools in India such as K8 schools have partnered with organizations such as Discovery education which impart curriculum and subject based resources to schools for imparting education to children.
        2. Given the fact that most schools in this category are offering education up to the levels of grade 8, there is no imperative / obligation for an accreditation or an affiliation that online schools in this format follow. 
        3. Rather, the curriculum is customized and defined on methods of learning rather than traditional teaching methods
    • Curriculum structure
      1. In the structures seen in the Indian context, generalized international curriculum focuses on aspects such as STEM based learning, and targets imparting skills to students
      2. Additionally, the curriculum is divided across three stages i.e., Nursery & KG, Grade 1 to 5, and Grade 6 to 8, which also drives away the need for an affiliation or accreditation
      3. Schools focusing on this curriculum call out the curriculum design process as one which is research-backed, comprehensive, and combines digital-first learning to drive curiosity amongst its students. Moreover, there is a clear focus on driving engagement in the classroom, via practicals in subjects such as science. 
      4. With the backing of organizations such as Discovery Education, there are available curated collections of video literature and learning material which include elements and subjects from various discovery sources. 
      5. One of the other focuses of such a curriculum is a focus on STEM based learning, which online schools offering generalized international curriculum are quick to call out. Specialized STEM only platforms connect students to real-world examples of global issues and challenges and focus on imparting students with knowledge that they may require at college level, and in the adult professional world. 
    1. Recognition

    Given that such curriculum is limited to lower grades, there is not much focus on recognition or accreditation driven agenda. Moreover, such curricula do not have at their center an affiliation-based agenda, but rather a skills-based agenda.

    • British Curriculum – Oxford / Cambridge
    • Overview
          1. The British curriculum across the world is offered across various affiliations and designs including those per Cambridge International, Oxford et al
          2. The curriculum is one of the oldest, and includes elements of Humanities, sciences, and arts, and students learn language and mathematics fundamentals, and the foundation stage of the curriculum
          3. One of the most coveted features of the British curriculum include HOTS or Higher Order Thinking Skills questions (which also found place in the Indian curriculum in 2008-09), and the British curriculum is also a proponent of independent learning through the IGCSE examinations.
    • How American curriculum is delivered online globally and by whom?
          1. What needs to be noted is that several online schools exist in the English mainland and internationally that impart mandated and accredited courses for the British curriculum.
          2. These schools include:
            • Kingsinter High
            • British School Online
            • International British Online School
            • NISAI Virtual Academy
          3. A point to note here is that the Indian online platform ecosystem only includes accredited physical schools which are imparting online education 
          4. However, online only schools have partnered with the schools such as the NISAI Virtual Academic School, which enables them to bring the British curriculum to Indian students.
          5. In our view, this is a credible approach, and one that enables a student’s exposure to proven models of education via partnership with leading British online only schools.
          6. Schools such as the NISAI Virtual Academy or International British Online School have offered effective and innovative ways of giving people access to 21st century online education across the globe. These schools are approved by Cambridge International School. As a Cambridge International School, they offer the Cambridge Primary, Lower Secondary, Upper Secondary, Advanced program for students aged 5 – 19. 
          7. Additionally, they are approved by the Department for Education of Great Britain as a Section 41 provider for Post 16 learners. ​ The NISAI group is ISI and OFSTED inspected.
    • British Curriculum structure in the online world
          1. “Key Stages” are referred to as the key grade division blocks by the British curriculum, and students are assessed at the end of each of these blocks.
          2. The block division is basis age which is as follows:
            • Early Years – Ages 2 to 5
            • Primary Level – Ages 5 to 7 which is Key Stage 1, and ages 7 to 11 which is Key Stage 2
            • Secondary level – ages 11 to 14 which is Key stage 3, and ages 14 to 16 which is key stage 4
            • Pre-University level which is for ages 16 to 18
            • The stages are designed to provide teacher insight into a student’s progress, and plan their lessons to achieve the desired academic goals
          3. One of the other key qualities of the British curriculum is the leeway it gives teachers to drive creativity in the classroom and disseminate one of the widest range of subjects. However, in the online medium, online only schools are putting a special focus on ensuring that creativity is present during classroom lectures, and students receive support in subjects they find difficult over the online only mode. One of the key tenets of the curriculum that bodes well with online mode is the clear distance from rote method or memory-based learning – the focus on concept-based learning helps one easily step into the online mode without stress on heavy content flow, but a focus on concept understanding. 
    • Assessments 
          1. End of the Key Stage 4 mandates an appearance for the IGCSE examination for the students, while an end of Key Stage 5 mandates A levels, also known as Years 12 and 13 or sixth form
          2. The best part about the assessments is their wide global recognition, which opens a host of higher education and professional avenues for the students and are highly regarded by institutions worldwide. 
          3. While physical education is a key part of any American curriculum, keeping in mind the online nature, online only schools have designed the online physical education (OLPE) classes which provide a channel for physical growth, teamwork, collaboration, fitness, and health management
    • Recognition
        1. Even in online setup, the completion of high school warrants IGCSE examinations or A levels. The A levels are highly recognized across the globe and open a plethora of opportunities. 
    • Indian Curriculum
    • Overview
          1. The Indian curriculum globally is offered under two versions – CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), and CISCE (Council for the Indian School Certificate examinations)
          2. The CBSE curriculum is designed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), under the aegis of the Government of India – this curriculum is focused at preparing students for the Grade 10 and Grade 12 examinations
          3. The ICSE curriculum is a non-governmental, and private board for grade 10, helping students prepare for the ICSE examinations and the ISC examination
          4. Both the curriculums focus on incorporating the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP)
          5. For primary education in India, the focus is on general education and basic skills sets such as those pertaining to language, math, history, geographical sciences. The secondary school curriculum is more focused on core subjects such as commerce, sciences, and humanities
    • How Indian Curriculum is delivered online globally and by whom?
          1. With the onset of the efficient digital technologies, a natural result has been a direct shift of the offline classroom over digital channels by the educational institutions. The result has been an unplanned and ad-hoc delivery of classes.
          2. However, online only schools have invested in structuring the pedagogy as per the online needs and have invested in technologies such as virtual lab etc. to replicate the physical aspects of the school and ensure no aspect is missed out by the student.
          3. Moreover, Grade 11, and Grade 12 curriculum is taught under the aegis of the NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling), and the students can register as a private candidate for the assessment process.
          4. Some of the online schools providing Indian curriculum in India include 21K schools, and AOL schools. 
          5. A point to note here is that the Indian online platform ecosystem also includes accredited physical schools which are imparting online education.
          6. In our view, this is a credible approach, and one that enables a student’s exposure to proven models of education via continuing proven methods of teaching.
          7. However, not a lot of schools have been able to replicate the physical aspects – which is something that every parent should keep an eye out for while evaluating online schools.
    • Indian Curriculum Structure in the Online World
          1. The school system in India has 4 key levels:
            • Lower primary (age 6 to 10)
              1. The lower primary stage includes 5 grades – Grade 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
            • Upper primary (age 11 to 12)
              1. The upper primary stage consists of two grades – Grade 6, 7.
            • Secondary school (age 13 to 16)
              1. The Secondary school is divided into three grades – Grade 8, 9, 10.
            • Senior secondary (age 16 to 18)
              1. The senior secondary school includes two grades – Grade 11 & 12.
          2. The online world and online schooling platforms follow a similar grade approach, and no difference is spotted in online only schools as well.
    • Assessments 
          1. End of the Grade 10, students are required to appear for the Secondary School Examinations conducted by CBSE, popularly known as Board Examinations.
          2. A similar set of examinations are held at the end of Grade 12. 
          3. ICSE also conducts its own set of examinations in a similar manner.
          4. From a comparison point of view, the CBSE curriculum is considered slightly simpler compared to the ICSE curriculum as it is said to have a more scientific and structured approach, and its evolution with changing education demands – the ICSE is more comprehensive and much more detailed.
    • Recognition
        1. The CBSE curriculum is highly recognized across the world, and so are the ICSE examinations.
        2. Majority of the universities abroad recognize CBSE / ICSE as credible curriculums.

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