Explore the Distance Learning programme currently in place at SISD
14 April 2020| Last updated on 14 April 2020
All you need to know about SISD's distance learning programme and how you and your child can work together...
One of the first questions that many parents have is, “How can we do our part?” You’ll be face-to-face with your child’s education every day, and they may struggle if they’ve never taken classes online before.
“Parents need to set the right conditions and establish routines for students to learn. They should support learning in reminding students of their specific expectations and by engaging positively with the school, sharing constructive feedback,” says Mr. Luke Osborne, the Deputy Head of School at Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai (SISD). “We have shared very detailed guidance with our community and have been very impressed with the efforts of parents and students to support continuity of learning.”
Your child will need support for managing their time at home, and staying away from distractions. Your goal is to make this transition as easy as possible. That could mean helping them set schedules, laying aside a quiet place in the home for them, and making sure that they get their daily dose of exercise and other non-school activities.
SISD’s distance learning plan contains extensive guidance for this. If you have any feedback, you can help improve all the children’s learning experience – including your own child’s – by sending it over to the school.
And you won’t be alone in this challenge. Their staff are doing their part to support their parents and students. Mr. Osborne says, “We are very understanding of the fact that distance learning - especially where younger children are concerned - can be very demanding of parents, even in the best of times. Circumstances are now particularly adverse for many and so we can only reassure parents that they should be aware that they can count on the school's support. We've committed to listening to our community and working with them to make this experience as successful as possible.”
The limitations and strengths of distance learning
Distance learning is demanding, and sometimes it might not be able to offer the complete coverage that normal school provides. However, every effort is being taken to keep students on a path that won’t leave them lagging behind.
On this topic, Mr. Osborne says, “From the outset, we have engaged in meaningful distance learning whereby all members of our community are expected to commit to the understanding that regular, face-face and two-way contact is of paramount importance in maintaining a meaningful learning path.
"We understand that distance learning can be demanding, and will not allow the full coverage that normal school provides, but we are confident that done well - even over an extended period of time - it will allow for students to remain in a position where they will not fall perilously far behind."
How are different subjects making the most out of the situation?
Every class, of course, is taught differently, and with different needs. SISD's hard-working faculty has developed their own ways of managing how their subject matter is taught through remote methods.
For example, Art teacher Ms. Alexandra Williams says that a large part of the IB curriculum is made up of parts that can be easily taught online:
“The practical skill development requires some modification and understanding of the accessibility of basic materials for students. This requires a small amount of additional creative thinking but makes room for students to create their own solutions in order to accomplish the task.
“Students are required to be resourceful and identify items within their home which could be used as art materials. Cereal boxes which would usually be disposed of can be redeveloped into sculpture for instance and old candy wrappers, newspapers and magazines are great for collaging. We can even paint with coffee, and sketch with gel-pens! Students who have access to a garden can easily create environmental art and we can get modern using technology to create digitally modified artwork.”
Our Science Coordinator, Mr. Charles Cejka, discusses using video methods and digital textbooks to help with remote learning. He also notes that online collaboration software has been very helpful in teaching scientific content.
On the topic of how to conduct experiments, he says: “To solve this problem, we are planning to record ourselves or our lab technician conducting the experiment and then to post the video on Teams and/or ManageBac.
"This will depend on us having access to the school facilities (as materials and equipment are stored there). We will then provide the students with a sample data set and will ask them to write a report based on the provided data and include limitations/improvements related to the experiment that they observed in the video. We will pilot this approach in the coming weeks.”
SISD's Music teacher, Mr. Joachim Beyer, says that plenty of music software can be used to share artistic ideas and musical compositions. He also notes that there are many collaborative tools used to show students’ work and take lessons.
“As mentioned, teaching students specific instrumental techniques and giving them clear instructions (i.e. finger positions), particularly for advanced students in grade 12, is more time consuming, but still manageable and rewarding.
“Microsoft Teams as the main communication tool is extremely helpful. Some of my classes use platforms such as kidblog.org to clearly give evidence of their outcomes for summative tasks and to share their learning experience with me, parents and friends.
“Classes are also highly encouraged to incorporate more "old-school" activities such as drawing into their daily routine to avoid an excessive use of screens and technology.
"Formative and summative tasks have therefore been modified to guarantee a better "balance" and variety of activities throughout the week.”
Mr. Beyer adds that all this adaptation to new learning methods, as well as the necessity of building one’s own time management skills, will “greatly help [students] further develop their ATL skills such as Self-management, Communication and Thinking.”
Blazing a trail for distance learning together
At SISD, their teams are doing their part to ensure that all get through these challenges together, as a community. But they can’t do it alone. They need your help to ensure that your children get the support they need from you in their homes. If you work together – they’ll be there to support you every step of the way – then they will be opening new doors for learning through our distance learning methods.