/ 22 November 2023

How to choose the best online school


This involves a comprehensive assessment of factors: accreditation, curriculum the quality of interactive learning and support services

In an era dominated by digital advancements, online education has become an increasingly popular choice for students seeking flexibility and personalised learning experiences. However, with a plethora of options available, finding the best online school can be daunting. This article aims to guide parents and students through the essential factors to consider when selecting an online school in South Africa, ensuring that they make an informed decision that aligns with both local and international standards.

What to look for in an online school in South Africa

1. Accreditation

One of the most critical factors to consider is the accreditation of an online school. Accreditation ensures that the institution meets specific quality standards and is recognised by educational authorities. In South Africa, reputable online schools should be accredited by the relevant national education bodies, assuring parents and students that their education is in line with local regulations. Additionally, it’s beneficial if the accreditation is recognised internationally, facilitating a seamless transition for students considering further studies at renowned global universities.

2. A highly regarded curriculum

A curriculum that is accepted both in South Africa and internationally is crucial for a well-rounded education. Look for online schools that offer a curriculum that has gained recognition at top universities worldwide. This ensures that the education that students receive is of a high standard and prepares them for future academic pursuits on a global scale.

For example, CambriLearn offers both the CAPS curriculum and the International British Curriculum, ensuring that students can choose the curriculum that best suits them and their future aspirations. 

3. Interactive learning content

Engaging and interactive learning content is a key component of effective online education. The best online schools leverage multimedia resources, virtual simulations, and interactive exercises to enhance the learning experience. This not only makes the learning process more enjoyable but also fosters a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

4. Live lessons

Live lessons provide students with the opportunity to interact with teachers and classmates in real time, mimicking the traditional classroom experience. This synchronous learning approach allows for immediate clarification of doubts and fosters a sense of community among students. Ensure that the online school chosen incorporates live lessons into its curriculum to maximise the benefits of real-time interaction.

5. Q&A sessions

Effective communication is crucial in an online learning environment. Q&A sessions are a fantastic addition to live lessons as they provide students with the chance to clarify challenging topics. A Q&A session is indicative of an online school’s commitment to fostering a supportive learning community. 

For example, CambriLearn asks that students prepare questions dealing with certain theories or concepts with which they are struggling. They then encourage students to ask these questions in their Q&A sessions, teaching them that seeking help is a good trait to have and helping them overcome any issues they might be experiencing with the course work. 

6. Marked assessments with feedback

Regular assessments are essential for tracking progress, and an effective online school should provide marked assessments with constructive feedback. This ensures that students not only understand their strengths and weaknesses but also have the opportunity to improve and grow academically.

7. Access to teachers

Access to qualified teachers is vital for a successful online learning experience. The best online schools facilitate easy communication between students and teachers through various channels, such as email, discussion forums or a direct chat feature. This accessibility ensures that students can reach out for guidance whenever needed.

CambriLearn prioritises this access through a functionality that allows students to directly communicate with teachers in a chat session. This allows students direct access to teachers while receiving a timely response. 

8. Progression reports

Transparent reporting mechanisms, such as regular progression reports, keep both students and parents informed about academic achievements and areas that may require improvement. Clear and detailed reports help in understanding individual learning trajectories and enable timely interventions if necessary.

9. Student success tracking

An online school invested in the success of its students will have mechanisms in place to track and analyse student performance over time. This data-driven approach allows educators to identify trends, adapt teaching strategies, and provide targeted support to individual students, ensuring a personalised learning journey.

CambriLearn prioritises this with their student tracker function, which alerts student success consultants when a student is struggling. The student success consultant then reaches out to the parent and/or student to offer personalised advice, help set goals, and provide strategies for academic success. This ensures that no student is ever left struggling alone.

How to find the best online learning platform

Selecting the right online learning platform goes beyond just evaluating the features offered by the school itself. Consider the following strategies to make a well-informed decision.

1. Read reviews

Explore online reviews and testimonials from current and former students. Platforms like Hellopeter, Google reviews, and Facebook offer fantastic feedback from parents sharing their honest experiences with online schools. Pay attention to recurring themes and specific experiences shared by students.

2. Speak to parents in the online schooling community

Connect with parents who have firsthand experience with online schooling. Online forums, social media groups, and community events are excellent places to seek advice and recommendations. Learning from the experiences of others can provide valuable perspectives and help parents make informed decisions.

3. Seek referrals

Ask for referrals from friends, family, or colleagues who may have explored online education options. Personal recommendations can be a trustworthy source of information, giving parents insights into the day-to-day experiences of students within a specific online school.

4. Evaluate flexibility and support services

Consider the flexibility offered by the online school in terms of schedules, pacing, and support services. A school that understands and accommodates the diverse needs of its students is more likely to provide a positive and effective learning experience.

5. Research technological infrastructure

Ensure that the online learning platform has a robust technological infrastructure. This includes a user-friendly interface, reliable learning management system, and adequate technical support. A seamless technological experience is crucial for a hassle-free learning journey.

Choosing the best online school involves a comprehensive assessment of factors ranging from accreditation and curriculum to the quality of interactive learning and support services. By considering these elements and employing strategies such as reading reviews and seeking referrals, parents can make an informed decision that aligns with their and their children’s educational goals and sets the stage for a successful online learning experience.