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Long spring break begins in UAE, schools set for e-learning

Dhanusha Gokulan and Ismail Sebugwaawo
Filed on March 8, 2020 | Last updated on March 8, 2020 at 07.04 am
spring break, begin, school, e-learning

(KT file)

During this period, the academe shall rely on online tools.

As the extended spring break begins today across the UAE, schools have assured that students will not experience any academic setback. Innovative contingency plans were put in place to ensure that both learning and teaching remain on track. 

The Ministry of Education earlier announced that as part of Covid-19 precautions, all education institutions shall be closed for an early four-week spring break. During this period, the academe shall rely on online tools. 

Teachers, students - and even parents - in most UAE schools have long been familiar with virtual classrooms. 

Students know how to do their homework and class activities; interact with teachers and classmates; and take part in discussions, all with an Internet connection. 

Alan Williamson, CEO of Taaleem, said: "Our schools use technology and pedagogical theory such as flip learning so our students should also be comfortable with independent learning strategies. 

"We will closely monitor e-learning and adapt our strategies over forthcoming weeks."

Richard Drew, principal, of Jumeira Baccalaureate School, is anticipating that high-quality education will continue to be provided throughout the break. 

"Teachers and students use our platforms as part of their everyday learning," he said. 

Interestingly, at Global Indian International School, videoconferencing is being used. 

Amol Vaidya, senior director operations at the school, said: "We have started the English language webex sessions online similar to the ones that GIIS is already being executed successfully in Tokyo campus where the Japanese government has declared school closed till April. Children are joining this session from both GIIS Dubai and Abu Dhabi campuses."

Academics anytime, anywhere

Schools in Abu Dhabi are also confident that the month-long break won't affect students' learning.

Annahita Pagdiwalla, principal of Mayoor Private School in the Capital, said that they have been using programmes like Google classroom, class Dojo,and various online applications and website in the last six years. So, the latest distance learning shift won't be a challenge.

"Staff, students and parents are well acquainted with the e-learning system practised at our school. Students can learn anywhere in the world with a laptop or mobile as we believe in anytime-and-anywhere learning," Pagdiwalla said.

Though pupils won't be seeing their teachers face to face, they will have enough guidance all throughout the e-learning experience.

One school in Dubai, The Children's Garden, will be sending 'learning packs' with directed tasks.

"Teachers will provide math and literacy activities for the children to work through each week," said Amy Salsbury, principal of The Children's Garden.

"The activities will be carefully planned so that they can be accessed by the child independently where possible," she added.

For GEMS Education, schools will create plans based on key priorities.

"Teachers of all grades will be using a blend of online learning, small group collaborative learning, and live online full class teaching," said Mick Gernon, chief education innovation officer at GEMS Education.

Then for others like Amity Education, videos shall be sent to students and an online portal will be used.

"We do believe that with consistent monitoring, fixed lesson plans, online portals and flipped classrooms, every student will be able to make up for any lost time," said Dr Vajahat Hussain, CEO of Amity Education.

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