Abu Dhabi: It may not be the only way to get the content across, but a section coordinator at an Abu Dhabi school said distance learning helped teachers tap into different facets of students’ personalities.
“For the education sector, the sudden dive into distance learning revealed an added dimension to the way we could train, interact and catch up. So even though it cannot fully replace in-class education — mainly because teachers and students have an irreplaceable emotional bond — distance learning is an add-on that can help us explore new elements,” Merlin Maria Shanthi, secondary section coordinator at Global Indian International School, told Gulf News.
Option to choose
Distance learning — the education sector’s answer to flexible, remote working during the COVID-19 outbreak — was first mandated across UAE schools in March.
Even now, however, parents are free to opt for distance learning for the upcoming term. But even beyond this, Shanthi believes this form of flexible work schedule will continue.
“I believe the convenience it offers makes certain things about school operations much easier. For example, it was easier to consult with parents and obtain feedback about a child’s progress, especially as the students didn’t have to bring themselves to school. Teacher trainings were easier via webinars and virtual conferences too,” she explained.
‘More inter-school competitions’
“In addition, the flexibility to train children after-school, while they were more relaxed in a home environment, meant that we ended up winning more inter-school competitions like spelling bees and debates. I don’t think we are willing to give up on these advantages,” said Shanthi, who also teaches Grade 8 English.
Fortunately, her 13-year-old son was also able to carry out his schoolwork on his own, and did not need assistance.
There was of course a downside, given that the workday did often get prolonged because of the perceived convenience of continuing with meetings even after regular work hours.
‘Enough time for household chores’
“It required a bit more organisation to ensure that we didn’t extent meeting times too much. I also had to schedule my day differently to ensure I found enough time for household chores,” Shanthi explained.
“But we did find that we were able to help children explore more of their potential too, which is why I believe that remote working and distance learning won’t be going away,” she added.