Daily fitness challenges, animated stories and high-stakes games of Kahoot (a quiz-based learning platform) are all just part of the dynamic virtual classroom environment at ACG Strathallan during lockdown.
The school’s expertly honed online learning programme is well-resourced, highly interactive, and – according to Year 7 student Simran Kaur – almost as good as the real thing.
“At ACG Strathallan, online learning is set and taught in such a way that many believe they’re physically in class,” says Simran.
“Teachers make our lives super easy by scheduling meetings to explain tasks they’ve set, and if we feel confused, we can call them to discuss any queries. They’re extremely organised and provide us with websites and textbook page numbers to improve our understanding. They even record the lessons so that if any of us have internet problems, we can watch the recording later.”
And while Simran admits some things just can’t be replicated in the virtual classroom (such as science experiments and drama rehearsals), there’s plenty to keep life in lockdown at ACG engaging and inspiring.
“During this pandemic, the teachers and staff have all been working hard to continue to provide us with a quality education, which I really appreciate. Our teachers make sure everyone is engaged and has a good idea of what’s going on in class. They provide a nice balance of teacher support and self-directed learning. Without our beloved teachers, lockdowns would be pretty grim.”
Online breakout rooms provide a platform for debate, discussion and group learning and “very interactive lessons” to keep up the motivation levels.
“To my surprise, many of the physical and interactive aspects of our subjects haven’t changed. And the limitations of lockdown hasn’t stopped our terrific teachers. Okay, we can’t play badminton because most of us don’t have rackets at home, but instead, we are doing daily fitness challenges. They’re hard work, but they definitely get my heart racing and my blood pumping! Meanwhile, in ICT [Information and Communications Technology], instead of doing databases – which are very difficult to do in virtual learning – we’re doing animated stories, which are making us all really hyped.”
For Simran, the most challenging aspects of online learning are time management and Internet connection issues, but she has discovered a silver lining.
“I enjoy the fact that I can wake up five minutes before a class meeting, and I won’t be late. And we get to spend more time with our families too!”
The experience has also taught her several valuable life lessons, including the importance of friends, developing patience, and remaining positive.
“When I heard that we were going back into lockdown, I was shocked. There are so many special events that students have been training for that may now not go ahead. But as disappointing as this is, we should take a moment to think about our teachers. They had so much planned for us, and many of their plans have been dashed. Yet, they continue working their hardest 24/7 to make our lives easier. Thanks to their efforts, this lockdown is not as bad as I thought it would be.”
That said, Simran still can’t wait to get back to school.
“I am 100% sure that I will not fall behind on my work during the lockdown, but I really do miss going to school. The feeling of stepping foot in the classroom and seeing my friends and teachers’ friendly smiles is something I’m really looking forward to. In fact, I can already feel the joy and excitement running through my veins!”