education.govt.nz

Reimagining learning: a student’s perspective

Issue: Volume 99, Number 7

Posted: 18 May 2020
Reference #: 1HA7Wk

Edgecumbe College student Emily McClure believes there is much we can learn from distance learning to inform the way we learn in the future.

Reimagining learning

I will admit, it was a bit daunting receiving the message a few weeks ago that New Zealand was practically shutting down, and so was our school. A lot of us were in panic, as no one was sure of our fate and how we were going to maintain our learning momentum during the period of lockdown, and whether or not this would affect whether we would be able to achieve our qualifications for the year. 

Sure, it was frightening, but I imagine a lot of students saw this as an extension to the annual two-week holidays, and that meant they would be able to lounge in bed all day – myself included. For the first week, in all honesty, I worked sporadically on schoolwork and focused most of my time and energy on frequent napping interspersed with episodes of The Tiger King.

It was the first Sunday of lockdown where I received a notification from the Edgecumbe College Facebook page stating that I had classes the next day. Utterly shocked, I woke up the next morning at an uncomfortable 8.30am. By 9am I was with my PE class attending our virtual lesson and asking our teacher various questions about our assignments. 

“I wonder whether we should treat this as almost a trial phase of how we would ‘do school’ from now on, or in the near future.”  Emily McClure

“I wonder whether we should treat this as almost a trial phase of how we would ‘do school’ from now on, or in the near future.” Emily McClure

Our schedule looked a little something like this: three classes a day for one hour, and inside of those classes, teachers could more or less do what they chose. The schedule meant that I had classes for two days a week.

I found that teachers got extremely creative with the way that they taught. Some went as far as creating screencasts and hosting Zoom calls and posting them to our Google Classrooms. For a lot of us, we were stuck in a very awkward position of how to hand work in, but teachers were extremely proactive and assured us that we would be unaffected by the current predicament. 

If anything, many argued, we would do even better as we would have more time and freedom to complete work on our own terms, according to our own daily schedules and rhythms.

As for class turnout, the weeks leading up to the eventual shutdown meant that many had stopped attending school for fear of being infected. I attended school for those weeks, and my classes had an average of eight students, with 15 being the usual average maximum. 

Within these new virtual classes, however, nearly every student in the class was present during Zoom calls, and teachers found that an influx of assessments were being handed in – more than what would usually be submitted at this time of the year.

Personally, I’ve found that I am progressing much faster in school because of the phenomenal virtual learning system designed as a placeholder for us students. 

I thoroughly admire my teachers and the staff at Edgecumbe College for ensuring our education is still accessible for us. Even the over-and-above steps they have taken to help us during this crisis (such as creating special presentations or constantly being active to answer questions, feedback as well as deliver advice and guidance) have really helped us to adapt to this situation for the time being. 

The future of education?

I think that not only is it necessary to keep students on track at this time, but everyone should be taking time to focus on their own work and also have a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of life.

Maybe this is the future for education? 

A factor that my peers and I have realised from this experience is that we all feel a lot less stressed, yet more productive. Some teachers are even feeling like this is less back-breaking for them. 

I wonder whether we should treat this as almost a trial phase of how we would ‘do school’ from now on, or in the near future. We need to start thinking about how the lessons we are learning from this difficult situation can inform and improve teaching and learning and whether this learning style (or one like it) will be our way of educating our future generations sooner rather than later.

This article was originally published in The Beacon(external link) and is republished here with their permission.

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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 12:45 pm, 18 May 2020

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