Online learning a new experience for all as schools start term 2

By James Perry

It will not be the typical class setting but school will be back in session shortly.

Later this week, the new online education system will be launched with schools up and down the country turning to online platforms to deliver the school curriculum. 

Te Wharekura o Manurewa principal Maahia Nathan says while schools across the country are moving into a new time the best thing is that education is continuing despite the lockdown.

"The best thing for all schools, mainstream and wharekura, is that the teachers can continue what we had started in the classroom," Nathan says.

To prepare for the new online learning set to begin on Wednesday, Nathan says his teachers have been training to use the delivery platforms so they are ready to teach remotely. Wharekura o Manurewa will be using the classrooms function provided by tech giant Google.

"With Google Classrooms you have access to Google Meets, which is similar to Zoom or Skype. The benefit of Google Meets is it is geared towards teaching. Teachers can attach documents, students can read the documents, teachers can discuss things with the students and the students can ask questions of the teachers if they need to."

One barrier identified by Education Minister Chris Hipkins is the fact that around 80,000 households across the country do not have access to the internet or have a weak connection. Nathan says before the lockdown began three weeks ago they surveyed their school community and found around one-third of the families lacked an internet connection.

"That equates to about 5-6 students who didn't have an internet connection, so they would've struggled. That's the first issue, the second was not everyone had a computer that the students could connect with to carry out their studies."

The kura worked hard before the lockdown to provide their students with chromebooks and Nathan says the number without an internet connection is now down to two.

It will not only be a new learning experience for the students as they adapt to learning from home but Nathan says it is also an opportunity for his staff to continue their own learning.

"I said to my staff, it's a new experience for all of us. No doubt there will still be some confusion but I said to them we can all learn from this experience of online teaching."