The COVID-19 pandemic has helped to normalize virtual learning for parents, students and teachers alike. As this new frontier in education continues to break ground, STEM SVG has been using their platform to service non traditional students such as Yannick Charles – a wheelchair bound young man.
Speaking with SVGTV News today Education Officer for Special Education – Aretha Charles said many disabled persons on the island especially those who are physically challenged have had their education interrupted due to lack of access at many of the educational institutions. She said having a virtual space for learning allows these persons the opportunity to access the classroom comfortably.
Charles said the application also extends beyond persons with disabilities and includes adult learners who may not be able to access the traditional classrooms due to personal responsibilities.
Also highlighting the many advantages of the virtual classroom was Petrus Gumbs – Director of STEM SVG, an online summer program that has blossomed into a full-on virtual platform for all learners with the desire to achieve an education or to supplement their regular classes.
Gumbs told our news team that the virtual platform affords educators the opportunity to improve their courses with direct feedback from their learners, thereby helping to reduce school drop-outs. He says it can also allow the addition of non traditional courses with lecturers from anywhere in the world, offer inclusivity for otherwise untapped students while also helping to guide students on new career paths.
The implications of the virtual classroom are far reaching according to Gumbs, noting that schools and educators no longer need to limit themselves to four walls. Education Officer Aretha Charles also noted that the virtual platform is an excellent tool for students on the autism spectrum, as it allows them to stay in a familiar environment while being taught which helps to ease some of their challenges.
One success story of the virtual classroom is wheelchair bound Yannick, a past student of the St. Martin’s secondary school. An injury at age twelve prevented him from accessing a traditional education. However when given the opportunity to utilize the virtual classroom Yannick says he jumped at the chance. He noted that the platform is easy to use.
Yannick says he has plan of studying computer science at the community college in the coming months, showing that a disability does not mean there is an inability.
STEM SVG celebrated its one year anniversary on May 22nd. It continues to pave the way for a new type of learning in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.