A NEW system of distance learning is set to bring isolated and rural kids closer than ever, by making virtual classrooms a reality.
Calrossy Anglican School is launching 'eCalrossy' for Year 7 students next year.
The distance education initiative means rural students would have a normal school day with a teacher and classmates, but it would largely be through Zoom, rather than a brick and mortar campus.
The school's deputy principal Mark Doran said eCalrossy would bring new opportunities for distance education students.
"There's a richness in hearing the thinking of other students and the ideas that others bring to a situation, so not having a static one-on-one relationship with a teacher, but rather being able to discuss ideas in a live format, it won't be quite the same as being there in person with each other, but it will be the next best thing," Mr Doran said.
Each student would be provided a laptop with access to all the Calrossy technology and help they may need, and use it to connect to a teacher and the other distance students for a standard four lesson school day.
The kids would have to come and stay at the Calrossy boarding house for three one-week blocks per year for practical work.
The new system will be introduced to Year 7 students next year, and Year 8 and 9 students will be incorporated by 2023.
Mr Doran said the revolutionary program has drawn interest from families across NSW and even across state borders.
"Sometimes it's for students where boarding might not be feasible, that might be because families feel the child is too young to board or financially six years of boarding is not achievable, sometimes there are health situations in the family ... or the child is still required at home to help out on the property, there are all sorts of reasons this will be of service," Mr Doran said.
eCalrossy has gone through a rigorous approval process and about three years has been spent perfecting the model.
The plan coincidentally comes at a time when online learning has been thrust into the mainstream during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We had a very steep learning curve as teachers to deliver lessons via Zoom, and so our staff are already quite familiar with teaching in that mode," Mr Doran said. More information is on Calrossy's website.