Some things might surprise you about online learning, given some of the bad press the topic has received.
- Attendance is up
- Homework completion is up
- Exams sat are up
- For some groups of students, exam results are up
It all means that, looking forward to schools reopening, those big Grade 10 and 12 exams in June and further in the future when it comes to university and college applications, Oakridge students are going to be at a big advantage.
We met with Dr VNN Murty, MSc PhD BEd, Senior Academic Advisor at Oakridge Schools to find out what he put these extraordinary successes down to.
We give teachers the tools
80-90% of teachers at Oakridge teach using PPTs in the classroom. So the move online was easy for them in that respect. For those who used whiteboards, we’ve given them all a digital whiteboard and stylus pen so they can teach in the way they’re used to and their students are used to. Minimal disruption.
WE RECORD ALL LESSONS
All our lessons are recorded. This allows us to quality control not only the content of the lesson but the way that teachers are interacting with students and encouraging them to work. Co-ordinators, Principals and our education team can all review lessons and give teachers feedback and guidance so teaching gets better and better in the new environment. It also means we’ve built up a vast library of lessons for students who missed a lesson or just wish to revisit the content. Our secure online delivery platforms mean only Oakridge students and teachers can access these lessons. We also have a digital library of worksheets and textbooks so students can use this time to pursue their learning as much as they want.
We keep our exam schedule exactly the same…
Parents and students want to be able to measure their progress, and preparing for an exam is an excellent way for students to reinforce their learning and for teachers to identify strengths and learning gaps. In our VSE the exam schedule remains exactly the same – there’s the same number of exams for each year group, and they are run online (not through sheets which are mailed out and mailed back)!
And the results are the same
Some groups have done better as we’ve moved online…which gives us a lot to think about as schools do reopen. Definitely some boys, in particular, find the online environment less distracting and the gamification of some elements of lessons really appeals to them and increases motivation.
Overall across both genders, all curriculums and all year groups attainment remains the same.
If you think a drop in standards is inevitable, that is exactly what will happen – teachers and students will pick up on the lowered expectation. That’s not how we work at Oakridge.
We didn’t have a single day’s gap
We knew it was highly likely schools would close. Our sister schools in the Far East and in China had shut and we’d been working with them for some weeks to identify the best way to use technology, training teachers.
It meant our students had continuity. They didn’t have to ‘get back into’ the habit of attending class or learning. They didn’t need to go over work that they had done and forgotten.
We all spent June, while students took a break, working on the plans for the coming year. What learning needs to happen? So what do we need to do? So how do we do that online? Preparation is what success is down to.
We draw on the best content from the best teachers across the globe
The collaboration hasn’t stopped. Our teachers work in groups with teachers of their subject across 23 countries to access the best content and of course share their own. It’s a great motivator for them when a teacher in Europe or the US wants to use their lessons, and it means they can keep the presentation of material fresh and engaging for their own students.
We invest in technology
We use a wide range of technologies to ensure security, to give students the interactivity that they love and support.
We run extra classes for the children who need more help
Our classes run from 9 to 1.15. From 1.15 to 3.15 we run catch-up classes in each subject so those who need additional help and even more personalized learning can get it. Our classes are small anyway, but this extra attention and support makes a massive diﬀerence. Those students who have joined us this academic year after falling behind at their previous school (not perhaps from their classmates, but from their age group peers who will be applying to the same universities as them in a few years) have especially found this beneficial.
And we run extra classes for the Academically Talented
In the same way, afternoon sessions let our most academically advanced students in a range of subjects progress beyond the curriculum.
The Parent is our Partner
We run orientation sessions for our parents so they understand how secure the access to our system is and how online learning is structured.
A lot of our Principals also hold regular and more informal coﬀee mornings. Knowing you’re not alone in this online learning situation is important.
All parents receive a weekly report so that they know what their child has covered in the last week and what will happen next week. We also have a Parent App, where they can check information at the time that suits them.
Every three weeks every parent gets an extended meeting with their child’s class teacher. Of course they might choose to be in contact a lot more regularly, and our teachers are available in evening slots every day of the school week, but these more in-depth meetings all.
Yes, we still do co-curricular
Activities give children the opportunity to pursue their passions, develop their skills and build relationships. Of course we also replicate a lot of these online.
All our teachers have had extensive and ongoing training on supporting children at this time. Academic progress cannot happen when children are feeling frightened, stressed and lonely. Indeed wellbeing is always more important than exam results or projects. 24/7 counselling is available by telephone for all Oakridgers and we make sure students understand that this is not just for an emergency or a crisis, talking early, and staying in touch with trained counsellors even on good days, helps students process their feelings and feel less alone. These times are challenging for all of us.
We’re already planning for the future
We envisage, in the coming months, a situation where some children are coming to school physically, whilst others stay at home. That’s why getting online learning working is so important to us. School closures are not the fault of our children and we must do everything we can to ensure no long-term negative eﬀects for them.
For more information on joining Oakridge schools visit www.oakridge.in/admissions