Why not virtual school? (Graham White)

In view of the myriad problems currently facing Shetland’s primary and secondary education provision, isn’t it time we moved into the 21st century properly and started using more of the brilliant technological facilities and innovations currently available to us?

Can the building of a completely new school in Lerwick, capable of accommodating such a large number of children, really be justified? Why can’t we use the online facilities, which are readily available, to teach most of the subjects in the curriculum to pupils in their own homes?

Pupils could still travel to school for perhaps two days a week, in order to take classes that cannot reasonably be delivered at home. Practical subjects such as craft design and technology classes, music and home economics, for example, reasonably justify the need for traditional workshops and classrooms, where facilities for special tools and equipment are required.

However, the more academic subjects such as mathematics, English, history, geography, religious education, etc, require no such facilities and are much better taught live online, with no disruption or disturbance.

Instead of every pupil travelling to the Anderson High School five days a week, only half that number (or less) would need to be in attendance at any given time, thus requiring greatly reduced infrastructure of buildings and facilities.

Already in England and Wales, at least three online schools have been operating very successfully for more than four years, so that children no longer need to attend a brick-and-mortar school at all.

One of the online schools (www.interhigh.co.uk) is even offering to “sub-let” its excellent online facilities to local education authorities, in order that schools may run their own classes/curriculum, using the full suite of “Interhigh” facilities. Surely, this would be a better solution for communities such as Skerries, Sandness, Burravoe, North Roe and Uyeasound. It could potentially save pupils and parents in these areas considerable inconvenience and financial outlay on transportation, school meals, accommodation, etc.

The online school “Interhigh” charged just £2,220 to provide a full year’s education for each pupil (2010-2011). This has to be a much cheaper option than providing and maintaining school buildings, office staff, caterers, cleaners, teachers, classroom assistants, etc. for schools in remote areas, with insufficient numbers of pupils to justify the expense.

It would also negate the argument put forward by so many people about “ripping the heart out” of small communities, by closing schools in the more remote areas. There is no need for children to leave home for education any more.

One argument I repeatedly hear when outlining the advantages of virtual education, is that children need social interaction. My counter-argument is that – on the contrary – the child can easily leave the “goldfish-bowl” scenario of the village school and socially interact face-to-face and with peers in the next village and/or throughout the whole world from his/her own home – via the internet.

Fortunately, in Shetland, plenty of facilities already exist for “local” social interaction, outside of school hours, thanks to heavy expenditure on leisure centres, swimming pools and sports hall facilities.

Bear in mind that the USA already has over one million children currently being educated online and that this number is increasing, at a compound rate of more than 25 per cent per annum.

Decision makers involved in provision of education facilities in Shetland could be well advised to spend a little time browsing around the online school websites, to see the very impressive facilities on offer. Then, listen to the points of view from pupils and parents already using these comprehensive facilities, before wasting any more millions of pounds of our money on hugely expensive school infrastructure, which may well become redundant in a decade or so.

Graham White
1 Staney Hill,


Add Your Comment
  • Paul Goddard

    • April 19th, 2011 11:14

    This is an amazing idea. I have been a UHI student learning through long distance and virtual learning. It is ideal, still with contact with tutors whenever i want and gaining time managment skills amongst others. Young people will have one to one learning this way and learn at their own speed. Excellent, this is the way forward for higher education. I have also been to many virtual conferences as saved a fortune in travel!

  • Rachael Johnson

    • April 19th, 2011 11:22

    ‘Can the building of a completely new school in Lerwick, capable of accommodating such a large number of children, really be justified?’

    How can you actually ask if the building of a place of education for future generations is ‘justified’? The whole idea of online education, while fine in concept, is flawed in so many other ways. What happens to parents who have to work to earn enough to put food on the table? Are there going to be grants put in place for these parents? Many parents rely on their children attending a school building so that they can work and provide, I am one of them.

    What happens when the online system fails? Do the children sit around twiddling their thumbs until the system is back up and running and they can continue their education? In asking questions in a school environment, a child can get an answer immediately. Having studied part of my degree online, I know it can take up to a week in an online environment to get a response. How is that good for education? The child is yet again left twiddling their thumbs waiting for something to happen.

    You can not replace face to face interaction with online interaction. People need to see facial expressions in order to fully understand what a person is saying, that is basic psychology. So many messages have been read the wrong way through the internet.

    I just can not agree with this suggested method of education. Having studied child development and education, the environment of a school with teachers, structure and other children is so important and provides so much more than a basic curriculum. The thought of my daughter being educated in the virtual world really does make me shudder.

  • Dawn Bilyk

    • April 21st, 2011 23:07

    In response to Graham White’s letter (April 19th), ‘Why can’t we use the online facilities, which are readily available, to teach most of the subjects in the curriculum to pupils in their own homes?’

    There are a multitude of reasons why we have not and should not switch to this method of education, purely as a cost cutting exercise. Online documents and exercises could never replace the existing system effectively. A school does not just gurgitate text at children. Being part of a school community, children get the opportunity to learn independence, they learn how to build and maintain different types of relationships, with peers and staff. They have the opportunity to put theory into practice when learning something new, in concrete tangible ways that online learning could never do. They become involved with their local community, they take part in fundraising exercises, they have access to extra curriculur sporting and musical activities.

    It seem’s that Graham fails to consider another role the school plays. Sadly some children do not live in loving stable homes, and school provides the only structure and routine and consistency in some childrens lives. School for some, can be the only place a child feels safe or valued. Staff are also able to identify these vulnerable children and put mechanisms in place to protect them. How would an online tutor be able to identify a child in need of this protection?

    What would happen to those children who have additional support needs? How would those needs be met on an all inclusive £2,220, one size fits all online education.

    As Rachael Johnson rightly pointed out how would parents be able to go out and work to sustain their family if their children were at home in front of a computer all day? And the practicality of larger families having the space and money for four separate computers and work stations in the home. It’s totally unrealistic!

    Aside from the points raised above, children are encouraged to spend enough time staring at a screen whether it be the television or one of many computers and games consoles. We have already seen the health implications of this lifestyle. To set that as a standard lifestyle for all children throughout their formative years would be disastrous, and would cost the taxpayer far more in the long term in NHS costs!

    Yes, technology is wonderful and schools utilise it as part of the learning process. God forbid it should ever replace it entirely. Online learning courses for adults are fantastic, I have studied with the Open University this way and it has many merits. It could never replace all that a school provides to a developing child though.

    Dawn Bilyk

  • Jacqueline Daniell

    • April 22nd, 2011 15:39

    It’s certainly interesting to see how people have relatively little knowledge about how far technologhy, and the people who use it, have come. It might help those who cant imagine what it would be like to watch this short film – http://www.interhigh.co.uk/interhigh_news.asp
    These pupils are just talking openly about how it works for them.

  • Toby Clements

    • April 22nd, 2011 16:03

    Online education is far better, children have no worries of bullies or peer pressure. You can join clubs or sport team’s for excersise, instead of just sitting in front of the computer all day. You don’t have to go to school 5 days a week. One to one communication with the teacher and even student’s if need be.

  • Melanie Benna

    • April 22nd, 2011 16:35

    I am the mother of one of the pupils at Interhigh and cannot express more than enough, how satisfied I am with this method of education.

    First and most importantly, this school does not just regurgitate text as the reader states above! The children listen to the teacher through headphones and are presented with their lessons on the screen in front of them using a variety of imaginative ways, for example prepared powerpoint presentations, a whiteboard (where the writing is coming up live on screen for the children) as well as links to websites to compliment the lessons. The children can press a button on the computer to talk to the teacher live (so any and every question is answered straight away) or if they prefer they can send an instant private message to the teacher who will send an immediate answer back to them.

    As pointed out in the article, it is more or less like one to one tuition. There are no destractions or disruptions by unruly pupils in the classroom, no rudeness or insubordinate behaviour, and most importantly children do not have to cope with bullying in class, school corridors or the playground.

    Pupils join Interhigh for a variety of reasons, some of these being, bullying, expatriate children living abroad and still requiring a British education (my daugher now has friends from all over the world!), disabled children, or children from remote islands in Scotland…yes there are some, or children who just can’t cope with a normal school environment and learn better when having a one to one education.

    The school has a virtual common room and each week invites someone interesting to come and talk to the children, for example an actor, a businessman, an author…etc. Children have their own personal school email addresses and can make friends with and email the other pupils if they wish.

    The children will eventually sit International GCSEs, of which they can obtain, English Language, English Literature, Maths, History, Geography, French, Spanish and Triple Science. Lessons last around 4-5 hours in the morning only, so the children are not stuck on a computer all day. The afternoons are free for homework, or leisure activities wherever they live.

    If there is a power cut, lessons are stored in a lesson library for the children to refer to later. There are special extra revision sessions for older pupils to help them prepare for their forthcoming exams as well as homework clubs. Homework is sent by email to the teachers and marked accordingly. Regular progress reports are given to the parents.

    The school has also held for the last three years a weekend in Wales, where pupils from all over the world who attend Interhigh join the other pupils for a weekend of activities and fun. Not only do they get to meet all of the children whom they have only ever conversed with online, but parents and siblings can attend to. I went last year and met the pupils and teachers and was extremely impressed with the intelligence, good behaviour and politeness of the children, so often not found in youngsters these days!

    So to sum up, in answer to the arguments against this type of schooling, I would much rather my child interacts with other children outside of school, or in a leisure club, without the usual and very common bullying that is rife in schools nowadays. Too many teachers involve themselves in the children’s lives unecessarily instead of concentrating on their job which is a teacher. They gained degrees in order to teach and not become some kind of social worker! School plays and sports do not need to be done at school but rather the children can do this through joining a theatre or sports club in their spare time. In my opinion Interhigh has everthing you need for a successful education for your secondary school age child!

  • Jacob Porter

    • April 22nd, 2011 16:49

    In Response to Rachael Johnson’s comment, where she said

    “What happens when the online system fails? Do the children sit around twiddling their thumbs until the system is back up and running and they can continue their education? In asking questions in a school environment, a child can get an answer immediately.”

    I go to Interhigh, the school which was mentioned in the above article, and when the system goes down we are not left twiddling our thumbs. This is because most teachers send us work to do on our own by email.

    What I must ask you is, have you ever been into an online school to see what it is really like? Or are you just saying your thoughts?

    Also, you say you worked in an online environment and it took you up to a week to get a reply for an email. This is not the case at Interhigh. If you send one of the Admins or teachers an email, they normally respond extremely quickly. On a regular school day, when I have sent an email to an Admin, they have always responded within two hours. Within these two hours I have done some other homework, read a book, done a number of other things and I am NOT left twiddling my thumbs waiting for a response or something to happen.

    You also talk about face to face interaction and how someone needs to see another’s face. I will ask you this. When you went to school, were there class / school bullies, who punch you and make your life a living hell? There weren’t when my Mum was at school, but there are now. Being home educated means that these bullies to not hassle you, you do not get punched and your life is not a living hell.

    Even though I am taught online, from home, I see people’s faces. I go to Sea Cadets, where I meet loads of people and do things that not even a school could provide. For example, in the summer, I go on T.S Royalist for a week and sail from one place to another. On the ship we can climb the masts, take the helm and another number of things.

    From what I have said, I think I make it pretty clear that online home education is a good way forward. And please do not say “The thought of my daughter being educated in the virtual world really does make me shudder.” It is rather offensive.

    Jacob Porter.

  • Lucy Butler

    • April 22nd, 2011 17:10

    I for one have been to both, a ‘normal’ school, and interhigh. Interhigh has a variety of different reasons why it should be favoured compared to a typical school. Interhigh provides freedom and a solid education.

    I’m in year 11 now, just about to take my GCSEs, and a couple of months ago my parents decided to move me from internet schooling ( http://www.interhigh.co.uk ) to a high school close to where i live, the reason being to ‘socialize more’, but what they didn’t understand was that on internet school, i was socializing more than at the ‘normal’ school which i am attending at the moment, internet socializing is the new and modern way to talk to friends. By the age of 10 years; 60% of children are using the internet, and by the age of 16 years; 80% of children are using the internet. These 80% use it to socialize, and use the modern technology to get information. internet helps to revise and learn.
    So why not do internet schooling as well?

    There’s no reason for not doing schooling on the internet, with internet schooling you have the opportunity to concentrate more, with all the distractions in the typical high school classrooms, internet schooling has the advantage of a secluded environment which allows for a high concentration level.
    Not only does internet schooling provide a high concentration level but, it also allows a good, reliable educational relationship with teachers which is readily available whenever needed.

    From all the time i had spent on internet schooling (Interhigh), never once did the ‘system fail’, teachers had informed us as students on what we were going to be covering during the lesson, therefore if the anything had happened we could get on with our work until the system was recovered.

    Lucy Butler.

  • Liam Jacobs

    • April 22nd, 2011 18:10

    I was attending the (virtual) school you see as my website for roughly a year, and and considering returning very soon. Most people are against home-schooling their children because of the social and physical let-downs. I’m Liam Jacobs, 13, from South Africa. I have been home-schooled from the day I was born, I have multiple friends and best-friends, online and off. Physically, I’m not the strongest teenager, I swim, workout daily and J-board.

    My social problems – 2 offline best friends I see everyday. 1 online best friend, (goes to the same online virtual school as I.) We talk daily.
    My physical problems – My six-pack is really starting to annoy me (Yay, sarcasm.)
    Yet still most say that I am apparently I’m not as intelligent as other children.
    I am a professional graphics artist, software developer and child care-taker. Most, if not all of my grades are above 80% and I enjoy the work I do.

    If you choose to disagree, may your children have as many apparent flaws in their education as you do.

  • dawn richardson

    • April 22nd, 2011 19:47

    I would like to point out that your misgivings about using an online school are unfounded. It is a school in every sense apart from the fact that it is done online. The children have immediate access to teachers and other pupils. They have copious opportunities to interact within their environment of the virtual classroom, they are encouraged to participate in the lessons by answering questions offering ideas and asking questions. Pupils and teachers can talk to each other verbally by use of microphones and can text each other to. Interhigh – the school that my children attend has been great for their education, the class sizes are small and homely and the lessons are interesting and informative and available at any time – they can be accessed in real time via the classroom or later via a lesson library. There is great feedback and iteraction between staff and parents which means that you can be up to date with your childs progress. Many secondary schools now are huge with many thousand of pupils in them which does not suit everyone. Inter high is great in that it has a thriving pupil population but that the class sizes are small enough for learning to be valuable and there is more that enough time and opportunity for one to one with teachers.
    I can not recommend internet, online schools highly enough. they have been our lifeline .

  • Farida Yusuf

    • April 22nd, 2011 20:12

    I’m indeed a student of Interhigh, in my finishing year and about to go for my GCSEs. I’ve been there for about 3+ years now.

    The thing is, virtual schools are NOT trying to dominate the whole education system. This is a very illogical conception, viewed by too many. They are provided as alternatives/a choice for parents and students who have certain difficulties being able to reach a normal school. For example, I’m a Nigerian, and the daily hassle of going to school every day is virtually impossible to survive, not to mention the poor schooling system here. That is what Interhigh and other virtual schools provide; a sturdy alternative.

    Of course, it can never replace mainstream schooling, but it is very close to the standard of educational provision worldwide. It has limited facilities, yes, but that is expected with a virtual school, and children can still get quite more than enough in this stream of schooling. It’s an excellent branch of the education industry, and need not be scorned or eradicated.

  • Tagan Jacobs

    • April 22nd, 2011 20:59

    I myself attend Interhigh. I would recommend Interhigh to any child in highschool.
    The teachers are extremely friendly, as are the kids. I can’t think of any flaws to online schools except for not being able to stay in school longer.

    In my opinion, Interhigh is the best school in the world. I learn more in the space of two hours (The average lesson length) than I do over 5 hours in regular school.

    If the child is willing to finish their homework, and then go out for a walk, a jog or any form of activity, the child wouldn’t be spending “Too much time in front of a computer.”
    The average amount of time I spend on my computer during lessons and finishing homework is around three to four hours long, which gives me the rest of the day to do whatever I want.

    – Tagan Jacobs – South Africa

  • Gabrielle Benna

    • April 23rd, 2011 11:35

    I attend Interhigh and in my opinion it is much better than the old school I went to.

    I started in year 9, entered the class for the first time. I knew no one but they all talked to me as if I was one of their best friends! Everyone gives off a calm friendly vibe which just makes you glad to be there.

    There are powerpoint presentations prepared every day, even if you happen to have a power cut, this presentation is saved and uploaded in the lesson library for you to work on afterwards.

    We can talk live, or post in a public text box. If we don’t understand something but wouldn’t want the rest of the class to know we can private text our teacher. Which would get a response immediately and they will talk to us one to one until we understand.

    Unlike in most schools the teachers here are respected. This is very important, if they are not respected among the pupils then no work will get done. These teachers have the perfect balance and everyone loves them.

    I could go on to explain a whole lot more but that would keep me all day. So finally, going to Interhigh allows me to do lots of extra stuff that I wouldn’t normally have the time to do if I attended a normal school. It is the one school I feel truly at home with and will actually feel sadness when the time comes to leave!

    You don’t have the right to judge something until you’ve been through it yourself, so send your child here. Only then can you judge.

  • Cloela Bolt

    • April 23rd, 2011 13:39

    Hello there! I am a past pupil of Interhigh and I miss it greatly!
    I first started Interhigh after suffering for 2 years in a private school on the Isle Of Man. I would come home from school crying my eyes out and begging not to have to go to school. I would pretend to be ill or worse make my self ill all because of the school. I was never bullied but other people were and I was not/ still not the kind of person that will just sit there doing nothing for 2 years. So I tried my best to stop it but it seemed the bully was unstoppable. Not only this but the teaching was absolutely atrocious!!! I was bright, tried extremely hard, but still I did not get the results I wanted, I started getting moved down sets in some subjects like Mathematics and Science which meant I moved down other sets in other subjects. To sum it up it was a vicious circle. After 2 years my mother gave in a said that something had to change. We decided that she would home school me. After a few months of emotional recovery my mum found Interhigh!! I started in year 9 and Instantly fell in love with it. I was nervous as to how it would be to say the least, but everyone made me feel so welcome with an instant flood of: ‘Hello Cloela!!’, ‘Welcome to interhigh!!!!’ ‘Hiiiii!!!!’ ‘ellooo!’. The text box whizzed past with tonnes of hello’s and welcome’s! I was thrilled. I soon got to know everyone after many questions and story sharing. I made lots of new friends one of them in fact was Farida (who has commented above) an extremely bright girl whom was able to be a year or two above due to her amazing knowledge and intelligence!
    I realized that this school was really going to help me achieve my full potential!
    I had time to do things that I was interested in and loved, one of those was singing and music. I submerged my self in music and in fact I did something which I wouldn’t have done 3 years before. I entered our talent show I sung ‘White Christmas’:
    I came 2nd in the talent show and for the first time in 4 years I realized why I loved Interhigh so, so much it was because I was appreciated for the amount of hard work I put in!!
    Most of all I loved Interhigh (and always will love it) because of the amazing friends I have made!!
    In response to the social aspect sometimes I think we do too much of it!!! We certainly do when we have a meet up in april every year! I’ve just been to another one despite not going to interhigh anymore and everyone is still just as lovely as the years before!
    So I guess what I’m trying to say is homeschooling produces great people with great grades!

  • Rowann O'Donoghue

    • April 23rd, 2011 22:03

    I joined Interhigh in 2009 and took my IGCSE’s through the school. I was taken out of mainstream school due to bullying and I lost alot of self- confidence because of the incident.

    When i joined i thought it would be hard and that the environment would mean I wouldn’t have as much social interaction. I was extremely wrong. The first day the teacher introduced me to the class and all the students welcomed me and made me feel really relaxed. Some of the pupils sent messages to me and I found I wasn’t the only one to have endured bullying. I went to the Christmas show and my whole family sat around that computer late into the night watching the amazing talents the pupils had to show. I still keep in touch with some of my class mates nearly a year after leaving.

    As i joined later in the academic year I had missed out on alot of the work that I needed for the exams. All of the teacher were on hand 24/7 to answer any queries and all of them went the extra mile to make sure i caught up and understood everything.

    I still can’t believe that i went to a virtual school and it’s amazing to answer the question ‘Which high school did you go to?’. People are always so interested and want to know more about the online school.

    I’m now doing well and enjoying 6th form college with more self confidence then I’ve had. I am so proud to say i’m a past pupil of Interhigh and often look through my yearbook and about the fantastic experience I was lucky to receive.

  • Rebecca Brannon

    • April 25th, 2011 10:52

    I have been at InterHigh since September, and I absolutely love this school, I myself am quite a shy pupil whenever I see anyone who I don’t know face to face, so InterHigh has brought me so so much more confidence, in class I can talk and be myself and so can other pupils at InterHigh, without being called strange or nasty names, basically no one judges anyone. Socialisation: yes there is some sort of socialisation actually, I have some of my friends added on skype, msn etc, where I can webcam them, and speak to them through a computer and so can other pupils, so yes actually you CAN be a socialised pupil at InterHigh. Also, I think InterHigh is so much better than ‘normal schools’ because, as I said before, no one judges anyone, you can be yourself, teachers are nicer and are not lazy. When I ask people about InterHigh who go there, and I ask: Do you think that InterHigh is the best school ever? And they always reply with yes I love InterHigh, no one can judge anyone, we have more freetime during the day, and if we go on holiday, we can still do our schooling. When some people from my old school ask, whats this cyber school then, its kind of offensive, its much more than a ‘cyber’ school, but its definitely going to be the better way of teaching other people, I am sure of that.

  • Sam Thomson

    • April 25th, 2011 11:27

    An online school what a fantastically moronic idea. Why not just keep children in the house all the time and never have them interact with anyone except over a computer screen?

  • ali inkster

    • May 2nd, 2011 13:01

    It may not be the answer to all Shetlands education needs but in the case of the smaller islands its certainly makes better sense than a bricks and mortar school.

  • Liz

    • May 16th, 2011 15:56

    I am proud to work for InterHigh. When I first came for my interview, I was fascinated by the concept of an online school and was eager to learn more. After working here almost a year, I am STILL learning more every day about online education, and more importantly the benefits it has. Yes all you haters out there, it won’t suit every child, I agree with that. But for children who break into a cold sweat of fear because they can’t face the bullies anymore, or for the students who are SICK of their lessons being disrupted by rude children who don’t care about their future, then I’m sorry, but InterHigh is THE best solution for those children. With more and more students sadly being bullied, and with schools powerless to enforce hard discipline on these children for fear of reprisal, I am sure that online schooling is the way forward to avoid ruined high school education. Which would you pick? Sending your child into the lions pit once more to be bullied, or making them comfortable in your own home whilst they learn online, and will most likely achieve even better grades than they would in a mainstream school suffering peer pressure. Class sizes NEVER exceed 18, and teachers are available via email to help them with any questions. As their lessons finish earlier than mainstream school, they have plenty of time to play sports with their friends and attend after school clubs. In ten years time it will be the norm to have a choice of mainstream school or online school I believe.

  • Rachael Johnson

    • June 7th, 2011 16:00

    I’ve only managed to check back at this now as I’ve been busy.

    I would like to respond to Jacob Porter’s comments – ‘You also talk about face to face interaction and how someone needs to see another’s face. I will ask you this. When you went to school, were there class / school bullies, who punch you and make your life a living hell? There weren’t when my Mum was at school, but there are now. Being home educated means that these bullies to not hassle you, you do not get punched and your life is not a living hell.’

    When I went to school there were bullies; I am 25 years old, so school was not that long ago for me. I suffered hell at the hands of bullies, but there was no such thing as ‘interschool’ at the time I was being bullied. I don’t think it would have been a good move for me either way.

    – ‘And please do not say “The thought of my daughter being educated in the virtual world really does make me shudder.” It is rather offensive.’

    This is my opinion as a parent of a child who will go to school. As her parent I have the right to ‘shudder’ at the thought of her being educated online at home; it is not an attack on your choice to be online educated. I work and need her to attend a school environment so I can provide for her; would you rather I claimed benefits from the tax payer? I also personally disagree with internet schooling; having qualifications in child development and education, and having studied both main stream methods and internet methods, I have made my own decision; just as you have made yours – we’re all entitled to our opinions aren’t we.

    I have personal experience of an internet schooling environment, so my opinions are founded on experience and not just what I read and hear. For me, internet schooling was not the be all and end all and it didn’t work out. For some it does, for others it doesn’t.

    A choice of mainstream or internet would be good, but forcing every child into internet education is not the answer. Some thrive in a school environment and some thrive online, we’re all different.

    I will leave it here. Next time though, don’t make snap judgements about people and get angry with people’s comments based on those judgements. As my comments above state, you were entirely wrong in your judgement.

    Happy studying and I wish you every success in your interschool education.

  • Paul Bacsich

    • July 2nd, 2012 14:54

    Far be it from a Scot (and a Glasgow one) living in England to make any recommendations for Shetland, but there is a lot of experience building up on virtual schooling which some (including some of your readers) might think could help parents, teachers and councillors to make more informed decisions. We are not selling any solution but have been funded by the European Union to help communities make better decisions on virtual schooling. You can see some teachers and pupils from across Europe talking about virtual schooling at the web site for our recent conference http://www.virtualschoolsandcolleges.info/visced-colloquium-for-virtual-schools

    I can see that some students and teachers from Interhigh have replied. Please listen to their testimony but also that from other countries who have to look after education in their islands.

  • Ron Stronach

    • July 3rd, 2012 12:32

    Education is as much about interaction with others as well as the written word. We learn interpersonal skills by “learning in groups”. Far too many bairns hide away on playstaions, internets and other electronic media already without giving them more.

    Schools, real teachers and blackboards everytime for me!

    I grew up in Lerwick sitting with others facing the teacher who ruled the class, we leanred discipline and respect. I doubt if I would have leanred those skills sitting in front of a PC.

    • David Johnson

      • May 2nd, 2018 16:56

      At least we learned to spell properly at Interhigh. I can understand one typo – but you evidently think that learned is spelt leanred ’cause you’ve done it twice. Is that what they teach at your bricks-n-mortar school in Lerwick? I’ll bet you’ve never even tried to learn anything on line.

      Your philosophy appears to be “I don’t like it because I’ve never tried it”. Not much to base your argument on in my opinion

      • Ali Inkster

        • May 2nd, 2018 18:19

        Spell check is a wonder is it not, saves all that troublesome thinking.

      • Mr ian Tinkler

        • May 3rd, 2018 7:00

        “Pot calling kettle black”, here David Johnson. As I suffer from severe dyslexia, I have taken the liberty of rewriting your efforts in English, without the slang and with a little effort on punctuation and grammar. Enjoy!!

        “At least we learned to spell at Interhigh. I can understand one typo – but you think that learned, is spelt, “ leanred”. You have misspelt that word that twice. Is that what they teach at your bricks-n-mortar school in Lerwick? I’ll bet you’ve never even tried to learn
        anything online.”
        I await Mr Robert Sim to correct my efforts.

  • Matthew Barnes

    • January 18th, 2013 11:52

    I am in the online tuition business myself, offering private one-to-one tuition in A-level biology. Several of my other private tutor colleagues in Oxford do the same for other subjects. I think that it is fair to say that we all agree that this is a lot easier for A-level students than for GCSE ones – possibly because the students are more motivated and have clear targets and are not too bothered about the ‘social’ dimension of schooling. There seems to be a plethora of online tuition possibilities in the USA, ranging from elementary individual and group tuition all the way up to graduate and professional programmes. In the UK apart from Inter High and a couple of others, online classroom school-level tuition seems to be in its infancy – and one-to-one online tuition currently seems to have a very low profile as well. Since the UK invariably follows on the heels of the USA there is no reason to believe that online tuition will not become a big thing on this side of the pond sooner rather than later.

    As has been suggested already, for social reasons online tuition is unlikely to completely supplant classroom-based tuition for most students in the near future – except possibly in very remote communities where there is no financially viable alternative. However, its strengths at all levels are that it is very acceptable to people at all levels who are not fundamentally sociable (either by choice or by virtue of a medical condition such as autism) and people who are on the move (such as expatriates). It can also be useful for people who seek access to highly-qualified tutors who know their particular examination board/field and are simply not available locally.

    One final point. Like so many people who are a bit ‘different’ I was bullied from day one to the very last day of my ‘traditional’ schooling and so if online schooling had been available when I was of school age I would have gone for it like a shot! Not everybody enjoys the rough-and-tumble and sporty atmosphere of traditional schooling. I loathed it! It is wonderful that an alternative now exists and it should be exploited to the full in my opinion.

  • Georgianna Mackillop

    • October 8th, 2013 11:14

    May I just say what a relief to discover somebody that actually understands what they’re talking about on the web.
    You certainly know how to bring an issue to light and make it important.

    More people should look at this and understand this side of the story.
    I was surprised that you’re not more popular since you
    certainly have the gift.

  • John Tulloch

    • October 8th, 2013 12:36

    Hear, hear, Georgianna!

  • Matthew Barnes

    • May 6th, 2014 19:24

    It is interesting observing the relative outlooks and attitudes of those who are ‘pro’ and those who ‘con’ web-based education. Why do I always get the sneaking suspicion that those who are so viscerally opposed to online tuition on the grounds that ‘kids need to be socialised’ and ‘school never did me any harm’ were probably those who spent most of their school careers ridiculing and bashing the seven bells of hell out of people such as myself who actually dared to be a little ‘different’? I find that online-educated children (like home-educated children) are invariably far better ‘socialised’ and civilised and bright and un-cowed than those who went through the mill of traditional school-based education.


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.