As we face our second period of school closure in the course of this academic year we thought it would be helpful to outline the school’s approach to online learning to help answer those questions you may want to ask and to provide the assurances you may need. During the current period of school closure all teachers are managing the same workload expected during term-time, and continue to maintain communication with, and support for pupils via emails and in real-time through the online platform during the school day Hong Kong time. Teachers are also spending time collaborating with colleagues planning and revising online learning programmes and reviewing work completed by pupils. For the time being and following EDB guidance, we are allowing teaching staff to work remotely.
The announcement to close schools came after the CNY holiday had started, and many staff worked hard over the holiday period to put an online learning programme in place for the first day back. We saw this as a starting point for our online initiatives rather than the final product and our intention is to keep building the momentum – many staff, like pupils, are gaining confidence with this medium of learning and interaction.
It is perhaps helpful to acknowledge that we do not believe there is any alternative which can entirely replicate the value of face-to-face teaching in a school environment and the natural interaction which happens in a classroom setting. That said, whilst different, there are also very real benefits to online learning experiences such as the development of self-management skills which we are seeking to maximise during this period of enforced closure. We do hope that children will find the learning enjoyable and motivating and will feel the positive rewards of putting their digital skills into practice, working independently and of challenging themselves to work through a problem themselves. The impact and challenges of working with suitable alternatives will vary depending on the age of the child; where older children will be able to access online learning more independently, this is not the case with younger children who require more support.
We genuinely believe that the learning being provided online is meaningful and will allow for progress to be made to ensure continuity of learning through the year. Admittedly teachers and pupils do need to adapt their approach to maximise learning online and teachers are putting a lot of thought into planning online learning experiences to ensure the learning is as impactful as possible. For example, you will find videos being created by teachers to explain a topic. Pupils may watch, rewatch, pause and really ensure they are understanding what is being presented. Supported by the tasks set, pupils are able to work at their own pace. This is then supported through comments from the teacher or, with older pupils, through video conferencing either individually or in a group setting, thus providing the opportunity for teachers to clarify, tackle misconceptions and extend the learning, to respond to individual pupil questions and give feedback. This pattern, in effect a “flipped” version of what often happens in the classroom, has very educational real benefits and ensures that engagement with the teacher is highly productive and focused on individual needs. This maintains the daily connection and communication between our teachers and pupils with the ultimate objective of supporting and guiding our parents and pupils along with keeping the learning alive.
We see the online learning provision as mandatory for all pupils so that we can ensure continuity of learning within a carefully structured programme that can work in spite of school closures. We ask for the support of parents in enforcing the importance of engaging with the online learning to ensure there are no gaps in learning at the end of the year. That said, we also have to be realistic about some of the barriers and logistical practicalities faced by pupils in accessing online learning as well as the reality that some pupils are working in different timezones. We are also aware that parents have varied expectations and we are therefore focused on providing a balance which allows for flexibility. In planning online learning we take into account the following considerations:
An overview of how online learning is being delivered in the different sections of the school is available via the relevant links below – you will firstly need to log in the Malvern View so as to access the following pages.PYP / MYP).