Maritzburg College On-line Learning
We are Learning about On-line Learning
Soon after the Lockdown period started, College initiated on-line learning support for our boys. At the start, a considerable amount of work was placed on a variety of platforms such as the D6, Moodle and MS Teams in order to cater for all boys and parents, particularly those who have internet connectivity issues.
Now that the staff have returned to school, and have access to the school’s IT support and WI-Fi access, we have been in a position to refine and enhance our online offering. MS Teams is College’s preferred platform for interaction and engagement between teachers and learners, for submission of assignments, access to learning resources etc, but with our Moodle being a zero-data site, we are also uploading resources on this platform so that they are accessible to all of our boys. Moodle has also been extensively used by teachers for assessment.
Our staff are available to the boys via email; MS Teams and WhatsApp if they need one-on-one help, and we encourage boys to engage with their teachers on these platforms.. More recently, we implemented a Lockdown timetable for the boys to assist them with planning their work at home and ensuring they cover all the subject areas.
This has been a huge learning curve for both our staff and our boys. For our staff, highlights identified include seeing positive and enthusiastic responses from most of our learners, together with support and commitment from co-workers. One teacher noted that “I have had work related conversations via Whatsapp with pupils that would normally not say a word in class, and I know that once they are back in class that there will be a very different atmosphere and far more communication. I think that parents have also appreciated the fact that they could communicate with their sons’ teachers on a less formal basis. I am now on first name basis with quite a number of moms and dads! They seemed to need as much assurance as their sons in some instances.” So for many of our teachers, getting to know boys on a more personal basis through MS Teams and WhatsApp, and being able to support them through the difficult times, has been inspiring.
There have been many challenges too, and our staff have displayed outstanding willingness and openness to learning new technologies as well as flexibility and emotional strength in times of huge uncertainty. In addition, their high levels of creativity and their dedication to make things work, together with a fantastic ‘can do’ attitude are exceptional.
Among the lessons learned include ensuring you look after yourself, appreciation for the powerful tools at our disposal, “watering” the things that you wish to cultivate and “weeding out” aspects (principles, habits, character, emotions, relationships etc.) of your life you would like to change or get rid of, and that affirmation (reward) is a far greater motivator than avoiding punishment.
College will continue to offer on-line learning for our boys who are not yet permitted to return to school. We are also looking at continuing and even growing and expanding on our on-line offerings in new and exciting ways into the future – watch this space!