Learning between schools

Supporting internationally mobile students with VLEs

 Gavin McLean thinks that Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) can help bridge learning gaps experienced by many internationally mobile children as they move from school to school.

The challenge of frequent change

While international education is changing, and many more students in international schools are going to school in their own country, there are still a very significant number of families that require a high level of geographical flexibility and are constantly on the move. They can of course plan ahead to smooth the transition for themselves and their child/children, but there are no guarantees that moving will be a seamless process. Education requires a level of consistency and for students who need to adhere to a standard curriculum, set topics and perhaps meet certain exam requirements require more, not less, continuity. While teachers in international schools are used to the situation, frequent and often unexpected changes can still cause problems.

Social and emotional dimensions

Mobile international lifestyles are attractive and stimulating, but it will come as no surprise that the research surrounding school moves finds that they coincide with a decline in academic performance. Reasons for this are largely two-fold; academic and social. Academically, students can find themselves caught between two or more syllabuses in the same year and the lack of continuity can impact on their performance. Socially, the lack of consistency regarding teachers, their surroundings and having to make new friends all over again can also prove detrimental to a student’s attainment.

It is, of course, not a ground-breaking revelation that moving schools can have a negative impact on students. However, as the number of young people from transient families rises, the need for a more proactive and sustainable solution becomes increasingly vital. VLEs  can play a role by providing curriculum-based educational alternatives to the often awkward gap between schools.

VLEs and internationally mobile children

If students have access to a VLE, as they move, their curriculum and unique learning environment can move with them, potentially reducing both the disruption to their core learning environment and some of the pressure of having to play catch-up yet again.

Not only is the pressure lifted from students’ shoulders, but also from the families who might feel responsible for the disruption to their child’s education. As well as reducing the emotional stress surrounding the change, it can also help parents feel reassured that their children are receiving the high-quality and curriculum-focused education they might otherwise have struggled to gain access to.So how does this work in practice?

Transferring records using a VLE

International schools, of course, already do a great deal to ease mobile students into a new school by sending on detailed written records to assist receiving teachers in making effective class placements.

However, getting the right records in front of the right people at the right time isn’t always easy. This is where many modern VLEs can be particularly useful, as they can track a student’s progress automatically, not only keeping records up-to-date until the moment a child leaves a school, but which are also immediately available to receiving teachers, easing the pressure of transition at the time when it is most needed.

Supporting difficult transitions

VLEs can also assist in preventing students from falling behind if there is a significant length of time between leaving one school and joining another – as often there is. In these situations, when a potentially difficult transition is supported by a well-planned interim programme using a VLE, students can still have access to high-quality, teacher-led, curriculum-focused, personalised learning that will maintain continuity.

Another new start

And when a child arrives at their new school, he or she will be accompanied by a full set of on-line records, to which receiving teachers can have immediate access – whenever that learning took place, either at a previous school, or during the transition between schools, lightening the load just a little bit more.


Gavin McLean is the international business development director of Edmentum International, providers of innovative learning solutions.

Edmentum is an international digital learning provider for educators used in over 80 countries and aims to help students achieve success in their academic journey ...


Feature Image: Alicja – Pixabay