Editor's Blog

【Online Teaching Support】Report from a teacher in Australia


Report from a teacher in Ballarat, Australia

Our seven-week online mode for senior students started at the end of March and finished at the end of May. Our middle (grades 9 and 10) and junior (grades 7 and 8) students had nine weeks of online instruction. Generally, online learning and teaching worked well for our students in the senior classes. Attendance rates for my classes were more than 90 percent. Senior students, who are more motivated and have stronger IT skills, did not show much stress as a result of remote learning and made very good progress. It seemed to me that they worked harder and learned faster remotely than in the classroom, where there are more distractions.

I had some concerns with junior and middle classes. The attendance rates for junior classes were slightly lower, and some students did not submit any work for six weeks. These students will be contacted by their mentor teachers, and their parents will also be informed. Online learning is not for everyone. We need to intervene immediately when a student cannot manage in the online learning environment.

One of the challenges we faced was managing teachers' and students' workloads. This involved preparing weekly planners with meaningful and engaging activities and providing clear instructions for students to follow. It also involved the creation of online assignments on learning systems such as Google Classroom or MS Teams and the screencasts commonly done by some teachers. I chose to meet students regularly in teleconference rooms and teach online with Google Slides or MS OneNote.

A significant amount of time was spent on planning, creating, and running classes, as well as on marking. We endeavored to make our weekly planners very thorough and detailed, with clear learning intentions and goals to be achieved, but also tried to keep our lessons well-balanced and engaging. We had to learn new apps to create a variety of interactive games so that students would remain engaged and not become bored with one style of online game. Experimenting with new interactive quizzes was fun for us, but also very time-consuming. I think all the students appreciated our efforts.

We had to be mindful of not talking for too long when meeting in the teleconference rooms so that the students had enough time to learn new concepts and complete their assigned work during class time. Students submitted their work regularly using either Google Classroom or Microsoft OneNote. We regularly marked their work and provided feedback.

Overall, we feel that we embraced online learning, and that the experience went smoothly because we are exposed to multiple platforms at our school. Junior teachers may have different perspectives and experiences, as their students may not have had the same level of IT skills as the more senior students.

It was very clear to me that all the students missed their school and missed meeting and working with their friends. They all appreciated face-to-face teaching, even those who are reluctant to participate in class. We all discovered that schools are not just places for academic learning.

(c)The Japan Forum