Entering the new Valenture Institute campus, I was greeted by a person that introduced me to a QR code that I had to scan to access an online page I needed to fill in. After scanning my wrist for temperature, I inserted my name, surname, and temperature in a box on my phone.
Not a big deal, right? Well, it is in a country where we are still writing down our names as we enter buildings as part of Covid-19 regulations.
Covid-19 has forced most of us to rethink traditional learning as we know it. Homeschooling and online learning became a norm as parents became teachers, and teachers became virtual.
Valenture Institute is a Global Private Online High School. Yesterday they launched their boutique campus in Dunkeld, Johannesburg. To put it in other terms, it is an on-site online school. A perfect balance of traditional and online learning (hybrid learning).
What is hybrid learning?
Traditional schooling has its advantages. Children get to interact with their classmates and have the guidance of a teacher on site. The shortfalls are also not reconcilable, as children don’t receive specialised lessons, attention, and remedial action. Schools as we know them paint canvases with the same brush.
Hybrid learning on the other hand balances the best of both worlds; the kids get to interact with others with the freedom and flexibility of online learning.
At Valenture Institute, students are opened up to new worlds, interacting and learning from people and experts from across the world. Valenture Institute’s CEO Rob Paddock notes the importance of “linking students to a larger network”.
Paddock is the co-founder of GetSmarter, a provider of online short courses in collaboration with world-class universities. So far, GetSmarter has serviced 200K students from 154 countries.
Paddock believes that “innovation is a culture, and brick and mortar schools have not yet inculcated the culture of innovation”.
Traditional schooling is also serviced by teachers who are required to do too much. Teachers are playing the role of “admin, sports coach, counselor, and lesson facilitators”.
Valenture Institute has designated role players for each role, even employing Learning Coaches with a background in psychology to guide and counsel the kids as they progress.
A student’s progress is also tracked regularly, using big data to access a child’s Learning Analytics. These inform the different teachers, coaches, and mentors how the student is learning and what specialised methods to use to remedy any leaning shortfalls.
They don’t wait for the end of term or annual exam to decide how they are performing. “By that time, its already too late,” Paddock says.
The learning spaces are also set up in a way that mirrors real-life offices to help students “consciously engage with the world around them” Paddock adds.
For him, it is more that building a school to face our current challenges. It also about ensuring that his child will exist in a world that teaches him in ways that will enable him to be innovative and creative, unearthing and utilising his full capabilities.