E-learning the “new normal” for students and teachers
Friday, May 22, 2020
by Glen Simon, NCPC

One of the largest sectors impacted by COVID-19 is the education sector. For the first time ever, students at all levels are being tutored virtually for an entire school term. Teachers have also had to retool and upskill to embrace the technological change brought about by e-learning.

The Castries Comprehensive Secondary School (CCSS) like many other schools on the island, in the region, and in the wider world, is living out this new normal of virtual learning. But how are teachers and students coping?

“It has been a challenge, but an exciting one,” Principal at CCSS, Marva Daniel explained. “In every crisis there is opportunity. For me, and off course every principal knows what works best for them, we have embraced Moodle as our learning platform and we have ensured that our students access their school’s email account.”

She said 90 percent of CCSS students were able to connect online from the commencement of the term but 10 percent have not connected virtually and so the school has been tasked with reaching them.

“We have not off course been able to access every single student and there are various reasons why and it’s not necessarily technology, lack of devices, internet access and so on. There are some students who are just not interested.  They have to be coerced, they have to be encouraged, and so the support of parents in this situation, throughout this journey has been pivotal.  They play a very vital role in ensuring that students remain focused.”

CCSS parents Gloria Dorius and Cypriana George endorsed the e-learning measures taken by the Ministry of Education and the school.

“I would like to thank the teachers of the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that our children transition to homeschooling, said Gloria Dorius, Past President CCSS PTA.

“It’s been challenging being housebound with not one but two very opinionated teenagers. But, we believe in this household that it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, we’re staying indoors, spending time with each other, and ensuring that we practice social distancing when we do venture out so as to ensure we minimize the spread of this disease,” said Cypriana George.

The principal stressed that greater family and community support is needed to allow more students to join the e-learning platforms.

“Essentially it is important for persons to appreciate what we have now and stop the complaining and whatever. And, see how we can make it better. As I said to parents, you may have a phone, your child may not have one, allow the student to use your phone, it’s just for a little while. Your relatives might have the devices that they need, let us share with one another so that everybody can get access.”

Daniel said this COVID-19 situation has cause unexpected productivity gains and a positive residual benefit for both teachers and students via the e-learning platforms.

“So teachers are now upgraded, they are upskilled and they are now able to use so many different platforms, and our students are now digital students. We have now revolutionized teaching and learning and our students based on what they have been saying are loving it.”