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Teachers Go Digital For Home-Based Learning

Home-Based Learning

After one month of home-based learning, teachers finally can get a breather during their school holidays. Home-based learning is completely new to teachers too, and they had to chart unfamiliar grounds to bring their lessons online to the digital space. They had to learn new technologies, pick up skills and use different ways to make online lessons fun and engaging every day.

The school had already been exploring the use of e-learning to facilitate remote learning when student-athletes miss lessons due to their sport commitments. “Since the end of last year, we have been actively preparing for e-activities. I was part of the Professional Development Committee that helps teachers prepare for e-learning and explore how we can make use of different electronic platforms and e-pedagogy to conduct lessons online,” shared Gary Theodoric Tan Sian Ghee who teaches Exercise and Sports Science (ESS). However, this was the first time learning had to go fully digital for all student-athletes, and teachers had to react fast.

Chinese Language teacher Tan Hwee Noi, went on a “shopping spree” cum crash course on the available online applications that can be used for her student-athletes. She used a variety of online platforms to engage her student-athletes, such as Quizlet Live, Gimkit, or just simple online spelling using online whiteboards. Interspersing the use of different online applications for learning helped her to gain the attention and interest of student-athletes.

Besides learning new applications, she also had to brainstorm new and interesting lesson ideas. She came up with a writing task where student-athletes had to adopt the persona of items related to COVID-19, such as a mask. On her idea, she said, “This is a simple way to encourage creative writing and stimulate reflection on the COVID-19 situation. Reading the works of their friends also lends a different lens to the pandemic. They surprised me with many creative ideas and interesting perspectives,” said Hwee Noi.

When Angie Lim Lee Theng chanced upon a comic creation website that was now free during the circuit breaker period, she thought of trying something new to teach her geography lesson on the social and economic impacts of traffic congestion. As it is a topic that student-athletes would find harder to fully comprehend as they are not personally impacted by it, she thought that getting them to do comics on it will be a fun activity that will occupy them for a longer period. They also had “comic relief” while creating their own comic avatars.

While technology has enabled us bring classrooms online, it has also posed challenges for home-based learning, such as technical issues, network problems and the lack of face-to-face interaction.

“Designing online lessons for home-based learning is very different from designing face-to-face lessons. A lot of thought has to be put in to ensure that student-athletes are able to follow the lesson momentum and understand the lesson. I rely a lot on student-athletes’ participation and responses to modify the pace of my lessons in the classroom. Now that I can’t see them face-to-face, it becomes really tough. To overcome this, I constantly reflect to on my online lesson design. I will also modify my lessons according to the feedback I received from my student-athletes,” shared Hwee Noi.

When it comes to technical issues or network problems, Gary has learnt to be more patient. He also changed his lessons to ensure that student-athletes were able to follow his lessons. He made use of a “flipped classroom” approach for them to read up materials before lessons. During attendance-marking, he will post an “attendance question” before reviewing them through e-activities and discussions. After the lesson, student-athletes are allowed to review their written answers to the “attendance question” before submitting it to Gary. Through this approach, Gary is able to gauge their level of understanding.

Digitalisation of education has opened a world of possibilities, and teaching and learning will never be the same again. In Angie’s words, “I learn to accept that home-based learning is a good learning experience and we will eventually emerge stronger.”