Virtual learning: Taking the distance out of distance education

As the virtual world increasingly becomes a part of our everyday lives, it is worth considering how this technology can benefit education models and existing distance education approaches. We chat with Jeff Davis, Executive Head of College, and Danni Foster-Brown, Head of the Virtual Learning Community at Hillcrest Christian College, which launched a Virtual Learning program in 2023, to learn more about how it works and its benefits to students.


What is Virtual Learning, and how is it different from distance education?

Hillcrest’s Virtual Learning Community (VLC) is an evolution of traditional distance education. While we have maintained the benefits of distance learning—your family controls how, when and where your child will complete their schooling—our VLC incorporates the best aspects of a world-class Hillcrest Christian College education.

Our fresh approach to virtual learning meant Hillcrest was recognised as one of The Educator’s 5-Star Innovative Schools in 2023, which we are thrilled about!


How does Virtual Learning work?

The VLC offers 1:1 teacher interaction and connection each day. The misconception is that it’s done through packs or students are left unsupported to ‘find their way’. But this is not the case at all! Students are fully supported while being flexible.

This means the timetable is flexible but includes interaction and check-in daily with a teacher for wellbeing and progress.

This works well if students have sports or other commitments. We also offer a Life Group where a variety of students of similar ages connect as a group with a teacher to share and build skills.


Is it tailored for individuals?

Every student in the VLC has their own story, and as such, each student has an Individual Learning Plan. Whether students need consolidation of foundational knowledge, adjustments to their learning program due to diagnosed needs, acceleration and expansion of content due to giftedness, or short-term modifications due to personal circumstances, VLC teachers work with each family to develop a plan that puts each child at the centre of their learning journey.


What pathways are offered?

All students study and follow the Australian Curriculum in Years 9 and 10.

In Years 11 and 12, all students learn from a wide range of Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA), General and Applied subjects and courses that count towards their Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) and, if chosen, an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).

The College aims to provide offerings to enable students to choose their desired pathway and offers an extensive range of choices. This flexibility fosters personal interests and strengths and, combined with staff support, provides the necessary road map to drive students towards their future goals – whether they are headed for further education, training, an apprenticeship, or the workforce.

Our goal is to help students find a pathway to success in a way that is meaningful to them.


What about pastoral care and socialising?

With full access to our College counsellors, chaplaincy team and wellbeing hub, the VLC goes beyond academics to provide an educational experience supporting the whole child.

The daily online Life Group provides teachers and students with a regular touchpoint to focus on wellbeing, social-emotional skill development, relationship-building and service opportunities.

Students who live close to campus can also access the College’s co-curricular activities, such as choirs, clubs, interschool sport and carnivals.
The VLC also provides regular social events and enrichment days to build community amongst online students and families.


Keep Reading…

The Gold Coast college where IoT meets education
Think the middle years of school aren’t important? Think again!

Search tags: Technology
By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

You might also like…