The Distance Learning Experience

Posted on July 27, 2020

During the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Friends’ School, along with schools across the nation, had to make the quick transition to Distance Learning. Over the course of just a few days, our staff worked hard to move the curriculum online, all the while trying to keep themselves and their families safe. Meanwhile, our students needed to quickly adjust to a new routine of learning from home, with parents and guardians faced with the considerable task of balancing their own work/life balance, the safety of their families and the education of their children. In unprecedented times, everyone in our community rose to the challenge and did their best to take care of themselves, and those around them. 

The following clip explores our community’s experience of this time and with our distance learning program.

Our educational programs at Friends’ are underpinned by the principles of high expectations, relationships and support, which helped to formulate our strategy to move to distance learning. It was critical to us that our students had opportunities to connect regularly with their teachers and peers. Built into our distance learning timetable in all sections of the school were regular video conferencing sessions during scheduled lessons, that allowed teachers to support students to access and engage with the online curriculum through our digital platforms (SEQTA and G-Suite applications). Our timetable in most areas had reduced direct contact built in to allow teachers and students more flexibility in how their time was used to support a balance between educational and wellbeing priorities.

Before we started and whilst we were in the distance learning phase we focused on providing regular professional learning for our teachers. This created opportunities for our staff to share their collective expertise with their colleagues, with a view to strengthening our digital pedagogy to enable a broad range of learning experiences online. Also, we continually reviewed the impact that our program was having on student learning, by surveying teachers and listening to comments from both students and teachers. This resulted in us strengthening our support structures and enrichment opportunities at the start of Term 2.

As we worked through the return to face to face learning, we have continued to reflect on and seek feedback on our strategy to support and extend students with their education through distance learning. Whilst we hope to stay on campus in a face to face environment, if we are required to return to distance learning we need to be fully prepared.