Lets talk specifically about what distance education actually is. First of all, if you enrol with Australian Christian College at Albany, you're a part of the Australian Christian College Group. We are the largest provider of non-government distance education in the country. We offer distance education in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. Distance education is simply an approved private school education in the comfort of your own home or wherever you need to be.

Online education is very common in the tertiary sector. If you think of any university such as University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan or Murdoch, all these universities offer learning by distance education. When studying at university, you can actually be at home and you can study for your university degree. The question that we asked ourselves is why can't you just take that same concept and make it available to school students. Today, we have a program for primary students in years 3 to 6 and also a program for secondary students in years 7 to 10.

It's important to note that these programs are aligned to the Western Australian curriculum. We're trying to provide for you a seamless experience. Perhaps you're currently involved in public school or private school. It's important you know that you'll be able to come in to distance education and then perhaps move out of distance education and still be within the context of a private school in Western Australia.

Watch the recording of a recent Virtual Open Day to learn more:

Virtual Open Day Recording

Primary (PP-6) Distance Education

Let's look more closely at our 3 to 6 program. It is simply a great Australian primary school education that's super easy to use in the home. When parents are thinking about different ways of educating their children, the first thing you're going to Google is homeschooling. There is a sizeable homeschooling community in Australia, and that's just absolutely fantastic, but one of the challenges that you face as a homeschooler is that you have to design the learning program yourself. Also, the learning program will almost always be based on materials that has been sourced from the United States.

This is a problem. The sheer amount of work that you have to do to bring a program together is significant. There are some parents who absolutely thrive on this sort of thing. They just love lesson planning. They love coming up with new learning experiences, however this is a small portion of parents. Most parents are struggling to keep up with everything in life without adding the design of their child’s school learning program to the list! There are so many different hats you have to wear in education. If we can provide something that's valuable to you, something that's prepared, then you can gain the benefit of being a part of your child's learning experience without the burden of lesson planning and administration. Once you've made the decision to enrol in distance education, we want to make it as seamless as possible for you to get up and running. This involves lots of different things. First of all, in the primary school levels, you'll receive a physical box from us. Next, you will watch detailed setup videos which guide you through your first day in distance education. We assume nothing and we train you right from the very beginning. In addition to the training videos, we also take you through an induction process where a teacher will phone and make sure you can access our online systems. We're working with you every step of the way. The primary school program is comprised of four subjects per day. We always start the day off with a bible topic, because obviously we are Australian Christian College. Next, we do English and Math followed by one more subject that you would expect to see in any Western Australian school, such as health or science.

In summary, we have lessons right across the curriculum. We ask you to return work samples to the school for assessment and encouragement. Of course, our teachers are available during the school day to help you if you're stuck or you've got questions. We also run teleconferences once a fortnight where we all log on at the same time and encourage each other and provide class announcements. Plus, we also have distance education events. For example, we had an event at Kings Park in Perth. If you are close to the event, you are invited to come along and just be a part of something bigger.

Secondary (7-10) Distance Education

As mentioned earlier, school can be very similar to an online university education. In our 3 to 6 program, we wanted to make it hands-on or tactile, whereas in our secondary program the focus is on delivering the best possible online experience. Again, we have lessons in all the subjects that you would expect to see if you attended a private school in Western Australia. We also have optional lessons in Mandarin and Business. We focus on a high level of academics. Every course begins with an overview of what's involved. We also explain how the course will be graded. Right from the very beginning, students can feel confident that they know what they need to do to succeed. We also design all of our courses in a similar way so that familiarity engenders confidence. We recognise that when you're teaching at a distance, the learning program needs to be very explicit and sequential. Students have access to their textbooks online. Again, this is deliberate as we want to have a light footprint and we want the students to be able to access their content on their iPad or directly through our courses. You can also download PDF copies of the textbook or you can even buy the digital textbooks as well.

One of the things we do in secondary school is give students the opportunity to interact with each other. There are class forums where the students post to a digital message board about their work. They're very popular with the students.

We offer two different levels of Math program, so we will help your child using diagnostic testing. If they are behind in their Math, we'll also offer another Math program that's built specifically for them to go back to basics and work on the foundational knowledge and skills. In summary, it is Australian content providing seamless transitions in and out of school. There is a real focus on direct interaction between our teachers and students in the online courses. For example, you don't have to worry about whether or not you're confident with writing essays or doing high level Math and Science. We're here to work in partnership with you and your child. We really want to give you the confidence that your children are learning and provide the checks and balances.

Lesson Format

Lessons are delivered in a way that’s most helpful to the students and depends on the subject area. With Math lessons, for example, we zoom right in to the screen and you'll actually see the teacher drawing on the screen as if you were in the front row of the classroom. We find this method to be really helpful because this way the child can see the calculation as it builds from step to step.

These videos work in conjunction with workbooks or online questions. In the primary school, we basically have a series of tick boxes. We have so many mums and dads in our program and they're very conscientious. They want to do a really good job and they want to know when is enough enough. Our tick boxes help ensure children remain on track.

What is required of parents?

We'll help set up a timetable so that you know exactly what your child should be doing, when they should be doing it, and we all work on keeping them on track together.

We need you to be taking daily attendance. We need you to be attending the teleconferences. We need you to be a great cheerleader for your child as they go on this distance education journey. It is really a partnership. We have a role to play. The students have a role to play. You have a role to play.

Parents are given online permissions allowing you to look from a bird's eye view on your child’s work. We give you the login details and at any time, you can see what your child has uploaded, what results they have received, what communication they've had from the teachers and how they're going.

Gifted and Talented Students

There are a lot of opportunities for gifted children to shine. Here’s one example. In a secondary school History course, the students are expected to learn about the Industrial Revolution at a basic level, but if you were interested and wanted to do the optional activities, the level of depth you would be investigating would be similar to a first year university student. Obviously, we don't put that requirement on the students. We don't say, "Everyone must study at this level." But if you choose to engage in the material, you would be reading things that you would see in the first year of your university studies.

The important thing to remember when you're a part of distance education is that you're actually a part of a school community. You're not doing school by yourself. You're not isolated. You're not alone. You're actually a student of Australian Christian College. That's a real school with real students.