e-learning gets underway in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Thousands of schoolchildren across the UAE today logged in for their first day of remote learning after the spring break.

Using dedicated remote learning platforms and resources, children of all ages connected with their teachers and classmates, sat through live lessons, and uploaded completed online assignments.

There were of course technical hiccups, but teachers and parents are hoping these will soon be resolved.

Abu Dhabi’s education sector regulator, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), reached out to parents via SMS to mark the occasion.

“Dear parents, with the launch of the distance education process, we wish you and your children success. [We] invite you to be patient during this period while adapting to the new method of education, especially when facing technical challenges, and we would like to assure you that schools will provide the necessary support to overcome these challenges. Only by working together can we maintain the safety of our children and the continuity of their learning during the current circumstances we are all experiencing,” the Adek said.

The authority has also said it will conduct a survey to obtain parent responses to remote learning.

“We will contact you at the end of the week to invite you to participate in a questionnaire to assess your experience during the first week. If you have any questions that the school could not answer, you can contact us through the parents’ hotline: +971563771833,” the Adek said.

The remote learning period was launched across the country as an attempt to stem the coronavirus outbreak, and prevent the perils of mass gatherings. Schools were shut down on March 5 for an earlier, two-week spring break, followed by what could be a two-week remote learning period.

Meanwhile, thousands of public and private school teachers were trained in online learning tools and educational resources.

Being the first day of remote learning, parents had to play a big role today in connecting children, especially ones in younger grades.

“I would say the first day of remote learning went smoothly enough. My children had their own devices, and they logged in the morning and attended their lessons. They were not live sessions, but I could see teachers and classmates were online to deliver the content and respond to children’s queries,” Anuroopa Mukherjee, 40, the owner of a PR and marketing firm, told Gulf News.. Her two children attend British curriculum school.

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Anuroopa Mukherjee Image Credit: Supplied

Mujherjee added that she however had to be fully involved to facilitate the learning.

“Fortunately, today was not a particularly busy day. But this is not a viable long-term solution for working parents, especially since there is a lot of handholding involved for younger children. Even for older children, it can get quite difficult, especially getting back to the lessons after breaks. With that being said, this is the best option amid the coronavirus pandemic,” Mukherjee said.

Some schools and nurseries have set up dedicated hotlines so parents can get in touch when facing technical issues. Others have also distributed devices to families where children do not have access, as well as additional craft and learning resources.

“My two-year-old attends the British Orchard Nursery, and they have been very helpful at providing us with activities that we can take up at home to occupy the children. We’ve also been given resources like glitter, paper and crayons,” said Haifa Dridi, 33, an educational worker from France.

However, Dridi has had to balance her own work with her son’s activities.

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Haifa Dridi with her son Image Credit: Supplied

“For messy plan, I have to help him all the way. It’s when he starts activities like mark making that I can finally get some work done. It is a challenge, especially with my husband stranded outside the UAE after a business trip,” she said.

Ajith Madhavan agreed that it is difficult for households with two working parents.

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Ajith Madhavan Image Credit: Supplied

“My wife is a homemaker, so she has been able to assist my daughter during the three to four hours of lessons. I know it will be tough for some families, yet I do think this is the way forward as we progress to a more digital world,” he said.

His daughter attends an Indian curriculum school, which has begun its 2020-2021 academic year. Her lessons are currently focused on English, Math and the sciences, and the school held a demo before classes kicked off.

“In this current scenario, remote learning is especially beneficial because it keeps children occupied for a certain portion of the day,” he added.