Covid-19: UAE students feel enthusiastic to move to virtual classrooms


Dubai - Navigating through some challenges as pedagogical shifts to technical learning commenced today.

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 22 Mar 2020, 10:57 PM

Last updated: Mon 23 Mar 2020, 1:01 AM

More than a million students across the UAE resumed their classes on Sunday - their first virtual school day. The move came after educational institutions remained closed in the country as part of the government efforts to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

As classes moved online, most students looked forward to being back in a classroom setup, meeting their classmates, friends and teachers through webinars.

"I and my classmates logged in at 8am for our one-hour live call with the homeroom teacher. We registered ourselves as present. He assigned tasks and uploaded activities. Then we finished our tasks and turned it in through Microsoft team channels. We also engaged in online discussions with classmates," said Aditya Sativada, a Year 5 student of the Dubai International Academy (DIA) Emirates Hills. After the live streaming, he kept getting assignments from other subject teachers until the day ended at 2pm.

Following a similar pattern was Springdales School Dubai, where teachers held hour-long lesson with students. While the new academic year for this Indian curriculum school is due to begin on April 5, students have already begun engaging through virtual learning. These bridge classes are making up for an extended spring break, as schools closed down for longer this March.

Springdalian Samarra Dutta, a Grade 6 student, said: "It was a different experience to interact online. While the internet connection was smooth and there were no glitches, to adapt to this new shift feels exciting and satisfying. Our school has definitely been supportive in this experience. Even our parents had a 30- second session online".

Meanwhile, Avantika Swaroop, a Grade 7 student of Dubai Scholars, said: "We also moved to using online resources like Google classroom where lesson plans, Powerpoint presentations, and notes were shared and discussed. We didn't have streaming classes but our teachers were available from 9am to 1pm clarifying doubts and giving us due dates for work submissions."

Ollie Fenner, a Year 7 student of Dubai British School, said: "The work teachers gave us were varied - for some, we watched online videos and tutorials and for others, textbooks and workbooks. Physical Education was fun and was a great way to start the day because for my practical, I took my dog for a run."

Navigating through some challenges as pedagogical shifts to technical learning commenced today, American expat Shukri Deria was overwhelmed with the experience. "The homeroom teacher posted a video of the list of things that needed to be done. Each section had how to do it, games to play and by what time it had to be done. Then each subject teacher posted videos or assignments. It was overbearing. I really got tired, handling all this for my two kids, who are both in primary school and need adult guidance."
Willingness and cooperation

Delia Keane, teacher at Jumeira Baccalaureate School (JBS), said: "Three things have stood out for me. First, the enthusiasm, willingness and cooperation of families to prepare their child for learning whether it's allowing their child to wear their school uniform or providing materials to enhance their learning. Second, the creativity happening within children's homes. Third, the amount of cooperation that is taking place within the family unit. Older siblings are helping younger by taking videos or teaching things."

Academicians also lauded how tech-savvy parents stepped forward to extend help to other students. "We noticed that the children really missed being at school. But, it was equally heartwarming to see how parents were willing to provide assistance as students are still finding their feet," said Zubair Ahmad, head of HR and administration, Springdales School Dubai.

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