A New Way of Learning at SIS
Written by Alvin Hew
SIS Group of Schools, Board Director
Distance Learning amidst COVID 19
With the outbreak of COVID 19 around the world, many schools have shut down in the name of social distancing in the hope that such an action will slow the contagion of this new coronavirus so as not to overwhelm a nation’s healthcare system. With the closure of schools, many have touted distance learning as the solution counting on technology to bridge the distance created by “stay home notices” or “mobility control orders” mandated authorities. But is this really the panacea? How is your school dealing with the delivery of pedagogy and learning?
We, at the SIS Group of Schools, think that this is easier said than done. To truly succeed at distance learning takes careful and detailed preparation. Since January when China was the first to experience an outbreak of COVID 19 followed closely by Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, we have been carefully preparing and planning for the eventuality of distance learning. This meant running a survey among all our familties to get a true understanding as to our community’s readiness for distance learning. This then was followed by careful planning of class schedules taking into account the reality that online learning needs to be shorter in duration and more concentrated aided with the use of interesting course material as well as pre-work that is sent to students ahead of time. Our approach then needed to the optimal balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning when done online.
On March 23, all SIS schools across the archipelago went to distance learning. We, at the SIS Group of Schools, focused on using digital platforms that were familiar to our students and parents. Many schools make the mistake of launching new digital platforms that take time to install, learn, install and use. As a result, we stuck with the tried and tested. For our Pre-Schools and Lower Primary learners, we used platforms such as SeeSaw, Class 123 and Zoom. For Upper Primary and Secondary learners, platforms such as Google Classroom, Google Hangout, Google Docs were used, while for our Junior College students we used ManageBac for those pursuing the IBDP and the Google Suite of software if they pursued Cambridge A levels.
So far students, parents and teachers – the ultimate triangle responsible for successful learning – have found this to serve them well and learning continues at SIS at pace. Student participation is at 98% with some students even dressed in school uniform to attend online classes even though they were at home.
We don’t know how long COVID 19 will be with us and when physical schooling will recommence. But we do know that at SIS Group of Schools our planning and readiness have allowed us to move to distance learning smoothly to continue our ability to deliver on pedagogy and learning to all of our students.