While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to online learning, the case for having a flexible K-12 learning option has long been building over the past decade. From high-performing student athletes and artists with demanding practice schedules to globally mobile families seeking a steady education for their children, the necessity for an effective, high-quality, accredited “learning anywhere” model is now both urgent and relevant. As demonstrated by “The Academy,” American International School in Egypt’s (AISE) latest venture, this is now possible, enabled by the rapid evolution of educational platforms, growing investment by leading educational institutions in creating high-quality online lessons, as well as increasingly accessible Internet connectivity across Africa and the wider EMEA region.
AISE’s The Academy’s American accredited program uses cutting-edge AI technology, paired with 1:1 mentorship, and a globally connected campus, to offer motivated students a new pathway to their High School Diploma, as well as the option to automatically enroll at AISE partners, Arizona State University (ASU).
Built on the pillars of independence, personal responsibility, respectful collaboration, and commitment to learning, The Academy offers students (Grade 7-12) flexible, on-demand, asynchronous lessons, facilitated by AISE teachers. Courses are aligned to meet AISE graduation requirements and The Academy students will earn credits towards graduation from AISE, as well as advanced university credit from Arizona State University (ASU) for selected courses. Course offerings range from the traditional English, Math, Science and Social Studies subjects to App & Game Development, Film & Theater Production and Business & Marketing.
Lessons are supplemented with monthly Authentic Learning Opportunities (ALOs) where students are invited to campus and coached on how to work collaboratively and use subject content to solve interdisciplinary, real world problems. ALOs are worth 10-20% of the course grade, and physical attendance is highly recommended, though synchronous, virtual attendance is also an option. This year our students are aiming to solve three UN Sustainable Development Goals, targeting “glocal” issues such as poverty, hunger, health & education. Students must combine their subject knowledge, along with design-thinking to propose holistic solutions that address all three selected goals.
Online learning isn’t ideal for all students, but it is for many. According to Principal Elizabeth Johnston, “The ideal candidate is a responsible, self-motivated individual who is able to set and commit to a schedule of work for themselves, or has a parent or guardian committed to monitoring their schedule. Students must have full-time access to a device with Internet and Zoom capability.” The Academy is designed for students needing a flexible schedule, such as those who are highly committed to activities outside of academic school like semi-professional Athletics or the Arts. It also benefits families with ever-changing lifestyles who may not want to (or be able to) stay in Cairo all year due to travel or work commitments in other regions. Ms. Johnston added, “The Academy can personalize pacing to a great degree, which makes it an ideal choice for students who find the classroom dynamics of school too stressful or anxiety-ridden or for whom the regular pace of academic work is either too slow or too fast.”
How are students responding and finding success? “So far we have a well-rested, more energized, less stressed, and more organized group of students, and in a short time they are already reaping the rewards,” said Ms. Johnson, sharing the example of a Grade 11 student, who had mostly C's and D's in the year prior, and has achieved all A's and B's so far this year.
Online learning isn’t ideal for all students, but it is for many. The ideal candidate is a responsible, self-motivated individual who is able to set and commit to a schedule of work for themselves.