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Importance of relationship building in online education

When I speak at conferences about online education, and specifically about making the shift from traditional to digital, one of the key points I try to focus on is the need for tight collaboration when you go online.

Teaching in a traditional classroom is, unfortunately, much more of a solo affair. Teachers are given guidelines in terms of curriculum structure and outcomes, and then they're largely left to their own devices to get their kids through. Their job description includes curriculum designer, facilitator, assignment grader, social worker, classroom manager, technologist, mentor, parent liaison, sports coach and more. That's a heck of a job description – is it any wonder that we don't have enough "good" teachers? It's not a reasonable job description, and there are very few people who can perform all of these essential functions well.

Designing our own education model online gives us the opportunity to fundamentally reimagine this role, and in the case of Valenture, we've chosen to break down the broad job typically performed by teachers into its component parts, and put specialists in each function. The challenge of our approach is that it requires far more collaboration between the experts performing each function than the traditional classroom model. The net effect is unbelievably powerful for our students and parents, but only if we collaborate effectively.

Clear role descriptions, aligned priorities, good systems, well defined processes and so on are helpful enablers of this collaboration, but our ability to collaborate effectively with each other is fundamentally built on trust. In order to develop trust amongst one another, we need to get to know each other.

Every member of the Valenture team is performing one the specialist functions required to provide our students with an outstanding education, and meaningfully include their parents in the journey. By collaborating effectively, we can achieve far more than we could ever dream individually.

Building relationships now will give you a strong foundation on which your future (and inevitable) collaboration will be built.


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