The benefits of online learning are extensive.

We would list them, but we have a word limit we’d likely hit before we finished.

Most things that are this good for you are either very boring, very difficult or very hard to achieve. Like consuming copious amounts of plain old water, rigorous exercise and an unbroken eight hours of sleep a night.

Online learning though, is none of those things. And here’s why.

As online schooling becomes the preferred choice for many parents across South Africa and the rest of the world, its benefits have been actively circulating the web. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are interested in exploring how online learning can help their children grow academically and non-academically. They’re also curious about the flexibility online schooling has to offer to parents.

In this article, we’ll cover a common facet of online schooling: discipline. You may have heard that switching from conventional school to South Africa’s 2x award-winning online school, will help your child become more disciplined in their academics as well as all round. You may also have wondered whether there’s any truth to this statement.

A strong focus on scheduling and consistency

Online schooling offers a lot of flexibility to students. Unlike conventional school, online school helps students absorb and retain more knowledge in a shorter time span. This is largely because students are able to tailor their learning and schedules to something that fits their needs best. For example, they have the ability to move ahead when something is grasped quickly and similarly, they can select to spend more time on something with which they struggle.

Since the lessons have been designed to keep students captivated and engaged; the high-definition videos, strong visuals, narrated information and engaging quizzes, each child is engaged with the content for a longer time span. In other words, they learn more actively, attentively and retentively. As a result, students don’t have to spend hours in the classroom; focused learning helps them reap the benefits of a flexible schedule.

This flexibility comes with a lot of responsibility, which is instilled in students from the get-go. At Think Digital Academy, our lesson methodology experts and instructional designers along with our MA/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers are particularly focused on inculcating an attitude of enquiry, discipline and responsibility in students. Students are encouraged to follow a schedule they’ve set up for themselves, ensure consistency and adopt a disciplined approach to their studies and non-academic life.

Success coaching

At Think Digital Academy, our Student Success Coaches are available to all students at all times during operating hours. We provide weekly activity reports and copies of assessments completed by the students to all our parents to ensure that each student is on track. This assists parents and students to provide the support and guidance they need to feel their best, perform optimally and overcome common academic and non-academic hurdles with ease and adroitness moving forward.

Students can get distracted easily. We live in a world that involves active social media use, which can trigger a lack of discipline in students. With procrastination, complacency, and nonchalance on the rise, students often neglect their studies and adopt a laidback approach to life. We counter these effects by providing parents with a detailed weekly activity report, detailing all of the student’s activity on the dashboard. This includes times logged in and out, time spent on lessons, lessons watched, quizzes / assessments completed and results obtained. This keeps the students accountable for work completed as well as academic progress and achievement which, as a result, focuses on the importance of ensuring discipline in every stage of life: academic, personal and social.

Skill-building activities

The right activities can help shape a student’s mindset. Unfortunately, many institutions select activities that simply keep students preoccupied instead of offering valuable lessons.

Our lesson activities include skill-building activities that help students develop essential skills like discipline, responsibility, honesty, hard work, commitment and resilience among others.

Instead of simply being told about the value of discipline, students get a chance to exercise self-discipline in their daily online school routines. This helps them become more disciplined in different facets of their life.

At Think Digital Academy, we provide a quality South African CAPS, British International and American GED online education across four schools: Early Childhood (ages 5 to 6), Primary (ages 7 to 13) and High school (ages 14 to 18). Explore our online schooling programmes to get started.

Free trial

If you have not joined us yet, why not enrol for our free 14 day trial to explore our e-learning environment.

The South African Department of Education (DoE) released findings of an alarming number of unregistered schools across all provinces. The law states that all schools (public and independent) must be registered with the Department of Basic Education at national and provincial level.

Think Digital Academy is registered with SACAI, the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute, and follows the requirements for students to obtain their National Senior Certificate. If a learner is in the FET phase (Grade 10-12) the school should be accredited with one of the three governing bodies for primary and secondary education in South Africa: namely:

  1. Department of Education – The DoE governs all public schools
  2. IEB – The Independent Examinations Board (IEB) governs most private schools and any schools offering the IEB curriculum
  3. SACAI – SACAI governs online schools / distance providers

The matric certificates of all three bodies are issued by Umalusi which gives all students the same opportunity to obtain their NSC certificates. Think Digital Academy registers all FET students (Grade 10, 11 and 12) with SACAI.

Registration grants the applicant school legal authority to offer basic education and enables it to operate within the law. With nearly 26 000 illegitimate educational institutions identified, the government department prioritised on curbing the practice. The problem however, persists, though much has been done to create public awareness of the problem. Hefty fines have been implemented, legislation amended, schools have been closed, and perpetrators have been jailed for creating these bogus schools, which essentially defraud and forge the certificates/qualifications of illegally trained students.

There are two types of schools in South Africa: namely public and independent. While the state controls public schools, the set-up of independent schools, which have their own operations, mission and ethos and essentially, their own curriculum and control, is a complicated process. There are various departments and organisations, like ISASA – the Independent Schools Association of South Africa, which provide schools with vital information and aid to legally start up their establishments. When considering applications, the Department of Education will look at the quality, financial stability, qualifications, legal operations and health and safety of the school. It is also assessed for resources, capacity and expertise. If everything is found to be satisfactory, the school will be issued with a letter and certificate of registration which states the registration number, the phases/grades for which it is registered and the address at which the school is situated. This must be visibly displayed on the school’s premises.

The issue is not all that black and white however. There are indeed fly-by-night schools which advertise courses and qualifications which do not exist, receive payment and cannot deliver the education. There are also however, community-run schools created by parents and families of children living in the rural or poverty laden areas with no other alternative; where there are no other schools, or the formal schools are inadequate or overcrowded. The Department shuns such schools as oftentimes the teachers are not qualified to educate and do more harm than good. A contentious issue indeed, as the Department of Education in 2014 received 20% (R254 billion); the highest share of government’s consolidated expenditure, in the hope of dealing with these kinds of urgent educational needs.

The Department of Education has been very vocal in what you can do to prevent your child from attending an illegitimate school:

  • Obtain the school’s registration number and call your provincial Department to check if it is legit. You can also check with the Umalusi Council, which sets and monitors standards for general and further education or contact the South African Qualifications Authority which deals with accreditation and quality assurance. They are easily found on the web.
  • If your child is attending a brick-and-mortar school, check the school’s premises to your satisfaction. Have all your concerns regarding facilities, health and safety been met?
  • Study and understand the school’s enrolment forms carefully before signing them – make sure your child is registered for the right grade and the right courses in the right language, etc.

Please contact your Provincial Education Department (PED) to register your child for home-schooling for one of the following compulsory phases:

  • Foundation Phase (Grade 1 to 3)
  • Intermediate Phase (Grade 4 to 6)
  • Senior Phase (Grade 7 to 9)

To date, Think Digital Academy parents have never had an issue with the DoE as they are able to provide sufficient “evidence” that schooling is taking place daily. Parents are encouraged to print out the weekly reports that are emailed every Monday, keep a record of all the activities completed in student workbooks and lastly, print out a copy of all student assessments which are emailed to the parents upon completion. Should any parents of a Gr R-9 online learner with TDA ever be paid a visit by a representative from the DoE, the documents collected should suffice in terms of producing evidence of work being done at home.

Any parents who are seeking more guidance with registering their children with the DoE can contact the Pestalozzi Trust, a body of lawyers that represent home-schooling parents.