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Virtual Learning Opportunities for ATAR and VET StudentsPosted in Academic,Secondary on Monday, 1 July, 2019

“Virtual learning opportunities provide equitable access to quality online education and addresses barriers to learning such as distance, access to expertise, timetabling issues, student wellbeing issues and transition to post-school study.” CEWA ViSN Website

ViSN (Virtual School Network) is a network of CEWA schools, including Mandurah Catholic College, that work together to develop and deliver online courses.  Commencing in 2018, ViSN offers a range of courses with plans to expand the courses available to a variety of year groups.

With ViSN Courses, the content and classes are all run online. At the beginning of the year, students go on a camp where they meet the teacher facilitating the course, and get to know the other students taking the same course. This allows them to build friendships and working relationships which will help them in their online collaboration.

There are five lessons per week, with one lesson being via Skype with the course teacher and other students doing the course across the state. For the other four periods, the students do independent study and work, with the option to collaborate with the teacher and other students in a discussion forum. All the work is completed online and any content, worksheets, teacher recorded videos, podcasts or PowerPoints are all provided for the students online.

Deputy Principal of Teaching and Learning Mr Paschal McCarthy confirmed: “We offer ViSN courses for a number of reasons: timetable clashes, student wellbeing issues and support for access to university being the paramount concerns. One of the more exciting courses coming next year is Curtin Uni Ready: a course that students can do over two years to get in to uni. We will open that up to ATAR students for next year.”

Currently, MCC currently has one student, Taylor Gollan, completing a ViSN course in Economics. Taylor said, “The VISN program is a great program, I have enjoyed every aspect. I have a great teacher and bunch of classmates that I am good friends with now. The camp was a wonderful introduction for me and it was easy to communicate with my teacher and classmates about everything. Overall I believe that VISN is a great program, it may be confusing at the start but the program communicates efficiently and it’s easy to get the hang of very quickly”.

In 2020, Mandurah Catholic College will be offering the following ViSN courses:

  • Certificate III Business (VET)
  • Curtin UniReady (university enabling course)
  • Earth and Environmental Science
  • Health Studies
  • Economics

Research (Means et al., 2013) supports that online learning outcomes do not differ significantly from face to face learning outcomes. Mr McCarthy reaffirmed that the priority of the College was supporting each individual, and their own preferred way of learning. “For some students, an online program may be beneficial to their unique situation. The beauty of these courses is that the students work independently, but they also have the forums so they can work collaboratively with other students. For some it is the best of both worlds. The more choices a student has in their learning, the more engaged they will be. This is just another way we can support the students’ learning. Nothing can beat the exceptional face-to-face teaching we have at the College, however, I can see it benefiting students who are able to work independently, with the added support from an online teacher.”

In May this year, ViSN was awarded the United States Distance Learning Association award for Innovation in K-12 Distance Learning.  This is a globally recognised, prestigious award.  This is an amazing achievement considering the short amount of time ViSN has been in operation, and a promising sign for those considering the range of ViSN online courses.

Read more about CEWA’s ViSN network here.