Online learning has become a regular feature of local and overseas education. According to an international study, educators believe that online learning must become “integrated into education in the future”.
Thanks to the pandemic, the shift to online learning has seen more schools accommodate students locally, such as UCT Online High School, which was created on the premise that online learning platforms could expand access to education.
The online school was launched earlier this year in partnership with educational technology company Value Institute. Recently, Sanlam came on board, sponsoring tuition fees for 90 students for the duration of their high school education.
“We view these scholarships as a practical way to impact the lives of these children and ultimately, by unlocking their potential, we can have a massive impact in their communities and beyond,” said the chief executive of Sanlam, Sydney Mbhele.
Read also: Academic journey of a lifetime: The relationship between school, student and parents
“Support is vital”
The shift to digital learning can be dramatic for many children, requiring an adjustment period, says Yandiswa Xhakaza, director and principal of UCT Online High School.
She says that from the academic level to the emotional and social level, support will be essential to their educational success.
“In any school setting, support is key to helping students reach their full potential. With online learning, however, that need is even greater. That’s why we made sure to build a strong and adaptable support network that will be able to respond to a range of student-related issues.Parents and guardians would also do well to lend a hand to students wherever they can,” she points out.
To help students and tutors transition from in-person to online instruction, teachers and support coaches at UCT Online High School have put together some of their top tips.
Here’s a look at their tips for kids new to online learning.
Plan your week
Set aside time at the start of the week to set goals for the week. Make sure your weekly schedule is ready for action. Prioritize the topics and due dates that need to be completed first and highlight the ones that will take the longest. Be as specific as possible (eg 09:00 – 09:50 Complete English Module 4).
Make visual reminders of your goals and priorities
Use a small whiteboard, chalkboard or bulletin board to add creative visual reminders of your goals and priorities. Use post-its, die-cuts, or brightly colored pens/markers; have fun with them. Not only will this help you stay focused, but you’ll also love cleaning up your board or checking off your to-do list at the end of the day or week when you’ve achieved what you set out to do.
Be an active participant
Nodding absently at your screen while you’re on WhatsApp isn’t going to cut it. Be present in class. Listen to what other students and your teacher are saying, and if you have a question, ask for clarification. Answer questions and participate in any activities that may arise. This will help you better understand and retain the course material.
Stick to your plan and don’t multitask
It’s easy to think that multitasking equates to doing more things faster in the digital age, but that’s not true. Studies have shown that it can actually decrease your productivity and make you complete tasks slower. Focus on one thing. Once you’re done, move on to the next one.
Set up a designated workspace
Doing your homework in front of the TV while Netflix is playing in the background might sound like a fun idea, but you’ll just be distracted.
Find yourself a straight-backed chair, a desk, and a quiet space where you can concentrate. Setting up a regular workspace will also help you stay organized and reduce the time you spend looking for notebooks.
Take meaningful breaks
As you would in a traditional school, it is important to schedule breaks. Be sure to take time (2 breaks of 20-30 minutes) from your screen and homework to rest and reset. This will help relieve feelings of frustration or stress. You’ll come back with fresh eyes and a clear mind to help you face the rest of your day.
Take a moment to move
Set an alarm and get up every hour. Take 5 minutes to stand up and gently stretch your neck, back and legs. Studies have shown that getting up and moving around regularly helps boost blood circulation, which, in turn, will help you focus and stay alert.
Hold yourself accountable
There are no deductions at an online school. Without a teacher sitting a few feet away from you to remind you to do your classes, it can be very easy to start taking shortcuts. No.
Set weekly and daily reminders of what needs to be done and give yourself plenty of time to do it without falling into a last-minute panic. If you feel you need help holding yourself accountable, try working with a classmate.
Practice time management
Online education allows for a degree of flexibility that traditional education does not, which can be very alluring. If, however, you are not diligent with how you spend your time, this flexibility can cause problems. Follow a calendar, write down due dates for major tasks, and set reminders for yourself. The more you improve in this area, the more manageable your courses will be.
Know when to ask for help
If you need help, contact your Support Coach for guidance; that’s what they’re there for. Otherwise, reach out to a teacher or even a classmate and establish some sort of support structure. It’s okay to struggle, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Rewarding yourself with something you enjoy doing can be a great way to stay motivated. Reward yourself with something positive when you reach a milestone or accomplish what you set out for a particular study session/day/week.
What are the biggest lessons your child has learned since going online?
Share your stories and questions with us via email at [email protected] Anonymous contributions are welcome.
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