Keeping Up with Learning Now and Beyond

Keeping Up with Learning Now and Beyond

May 15, 2020

By John O’Connor

As most of us transit to a more sedentary lifestyle that is robbing us of our usual daily routines during this partial lockdown, it is essential that we hold fast and adjust to a new way of education that is distance e-learning. Social media has been blazing over the last few days with parents struggling with the reality of keeping their children entertained within the walls of their homes for days and to ensure that the e-learning is effective. This should hopefully not have been the experience of our parents, as our teachers have been working from home to continue teaching their subjects as thoroughly as possible, but students and parents have their roles to play for the success and to prepare when it is finally lifted.

John O’Connor, the Head of Academic from the International Secondary School shared ideas on effective learning during the partial lockdown. Keeping up with e-learning is not only important now, but it also helps in preparing for the normality of going back to school once the pandemic is over. 


1. Using a Right Tool for Online Learning

Many digital tools exist to help educators deliver lessons and teachings and collect assignments. Whether it’s learning management systems or solutions like Google Classroom, Proofhub, Skype and Zoom, there are plenty of options for educators and students to access and share materials and assignments online.

At Matrix Global Schools, Google Classroom has served us exceptionally well over the last few years and it has become an essential tool for us in these trying times. Through it, we have been explaining topics, setting work, correcting essays, offering advice and conducting most of the normal day to day interactions that usually take place at school.


2. Teachers’ Diligence

Teachers strive to continue to find various ways to still work as a team and stay connected with students during this challenging time. Much like the students, teachers are navigating new territories and learning new ways of teaching that are well received. They have to make effective psychological adjustment to online teaching so that they could focus on discussions, homework and morale-building of students.

They have to constantly find new ideas, technology and trends which can actually be fun for not just the teachers but students too. Adopting new approaches will give new life to the material and creates excitement among their learners.

The new-found ways of integrating technology into the classroom offer significant benefit, that is, it offers a certain degree of flexibility not found in the traditional model of education. It has been eye-opening to see just how driven our students are. The amount of notifications coming through from Google Classroom from all hours of the day and night is enough to make head spin!


3. Parents’ Cooperation

As we move forward into uncertainty, teachers certainly need parents to aid them in their duty to the children. It is to ensure that the children are constantly checking in on Google Classroom and for the parent to keep an eye on any deadlines that are being assigned. The role of parents has been crucial to this e-learning success and is the key to children’s overall development and achievements. Parents, involved as “teachers,” policymakers, partners with school staff, and community liaisons, enable schools to address the developmental needs of their children.

Some parents may be improvising with little worry, while many others may find the task daunting, wondering how they are going to work from home a full eight hours and find time to help teach English, math and science to their children. To juggle it all, it’s best that parents have a schedule for both parents and their kids.

It is also encouraged that parents provide good educational environments at home for their children and to teach them in outofschool settings. As school personnel form partnerships with children’s parents, everyone will benefit: parents expand their horizons by sharpening their own skills, their children achieve and seem to like learning, teachers seem to affect children’s learning with less difficulty and behaviour problems, and the entire community improves.


4. Students’ Discipline and to stay focused 

Google Classroom allows us to continue to educate but there is one area of teaching that we cannot perform digitally, and that is discipline and to stay focused.

There are so many things that may distract students from studying, like TV shows or video games. To get good grades studying online, students have to follow a schedule strictly and not to combine different tasks. It’s important to have drives to do a particular task during a specific amount of time.

To start, de-clutter the space and make room for books, computers and any other study tools. Remove, during the chosen study time, anything unrelated to the lessons. If they don’t have a desk in their rooms or maybe they are sharing counter or table space with others, choose a dedicated area where they can study. Make sure it’s clean, clutter-free and generally quiet during study time. Also, they have to be sure to remove all of their study materials once they’re finished, so that the space may go back to its original purpose. Using a portable container like a crate, backpack or small box that can be dedicated to housing the study materials is helpful; as they can keep everything together and move between spaces easily when necessary.

During the chosen study times they have to be focused. The more focused and dedicated they are, the more effective their study time will be. If they go over their allotted time, it’s great! Their hyper-focus helped them to study hard and prepare even more than they’d planned. If they find it difficult to focus, they may take a short break to stretch, breathe or enjoy some refreshments.

It’s not easy, but if they manage to study and focus for the duration of their goal time, they may reward themselves! The reward could be an extra hour of binge-watching their favourite show, eating an indulgent dessert, taking a nap or anything else that they enjoy. This will reinforce good study habits and, of course, it will be a well-deserved treat.


5. Preparing for Post Lockdown

Students have to take ownership over their learning, understanding more about how they learn, what they like, and what support they need. For some, the new mechanism may be effective as they are able to watch the study video over again and stop, think about it and go back to it, to figure out the question. Ultimately,  nothing can replace a teacher sitting down to read with them, the social growth and relationships established, the team-building exercises, or the chemistry experiments during lab time or the independence of being in school.

School will eventually reopen and they will be expected to be at a more advanced stage of their respective courses than on the day that the school had to close. They have to keep with the learning phase and not to be left behind. As the great man, Benjamin Franklin once said: ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!’.” They have to start actively preparing for the smooth transition back to normal offline education after the pandemic.

John is from the Republic of Ireland. With 10 years of experience between Ireland, the Middle East and Malaysia, he is now MIS Secondary Head of Academic. Holding PGDE in English, History and RE. An MA in Beat Literature.