Singapore’s education system is constantly evolving and changing. This rings true during Covid-19, where physical lessons transitioned to Home-Based Learning (HBL) and virtual learning.
This meant that many of us in the education system had to adapt to it, especially our teachers and tutors. And they have made great efforts to ensure that our education and the school system are up-to-date with the times.
How are our dear teachers keeping up with online learning?
Rise of Virtual Learning
Virtual learning and HBL became the new norm for students and teachers during the pandemic. This is because it helped them connect with others through virtual means, which prevented the spread of the virus.
Online platforms facilitated learning, allowing teachers to teach large classes of students. School portal websites also allowed students to complete assignments and homework and keep up with school updates.
Integrating Students into Virtual Learning Seamlessly
Some of us might think that virtual learning is easy. After all, students just need to log in to their accounts and join the call. But virtual learning has led to many complications for teachers and students!
Keeping students engaged
One main challenge of virtual learning is keeping students engaged. In the comfort of their own homes, students’ minds tend to wander. But it is difficult for teachers to monitor this while online (since some students’ cameras are not on).
As such, many teachers had to change the way they teach to make their students participate during lessons. For example, coming up with creative ways to engage students. E.g. integrating games like Kahoot or showing videos during their lessons.
Students feel socially isolated and lack motivation
Another challenge of remote learning for students is feeling isolated and lacking motivation. Due to the pandemic, there is a lack of interaction among students, especially through face-to-face means. This causes students to feel lonely and lack motivation.
When students cannot go back to school for physical lessons, they lose out on practical work. Subjects like the Sciences, Food and Nutrition, and Design and technology, require students to do practical work.
But some apparatuses or items can only be procured in the school labs and workshops. This means students don’t have access to them through virtual learning. Which might hinder their learning and performance during their O level practicals.
Teachers had to develop ways to let students have practical experience or understand how the practical should work. For example, they used videos and online simulation games to give students that experience.
To ensure that lessons online carry out seamlessly, teachers had to learn how to utilise technology. Studies show that students with tech-savvy teachers fared better during the pandemic than students with non-tech savvy teachers.
Before the pandemic, although technology was used (in the form of slides and presentations), there wasn’t a heavy reliance on it. This meant that teachers didn’t need to be tech-savvy or digitally fluent to conduct lessons.
But the transition to online learning changes this. Now teachers need to be familiar with technology and its many functions to make their lessons efficient and effective for students’ learning. For example, recording lectures, planning lessons, and managing a website.
Covid-19 has caused many changes in teachers’ lives. This is especially so when Education Minister Chan Chun Sing claimed that ‘the workload of teachers has more than doubled’.
From creating two sets of lesson plans for hybrid systems to helping their students integrate into virtual learning. Our teachers never stop working to keep Singapore’s education and school system going and running smoothly.
And this seems to be taking a toll on them. In 2020, around 80 school staff sought support and counselling from MOE’s in-house counsellors. An exponential increase from the annual average of 50 before the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase is also seen amongst teachers in institutes of higher learning.
During this time of uncertainty and change, our teachers have stepped up to the plate to keep the learning going and our education system up-to-date.
They have sacrificed so much time and effort to ensure that students have a fruitful experience even during this ongoing pandemic. They are indeed the heart of education recovery.