As I write this, the reality of Home-Based Learning is hitting all of us. Just like my wife and I are working on our laptops, my son is on his laptop doing his work on the School Learning System and communicating with his friends and teachers.
To be honest, I can see some weak points. However, I understand that this is a unique situation and teachers are trying their best. For ourselves, we need to understand and try our best to supplement our children’s learning.
Home-Based Learning Limitations
Currently the way Home-Based Learning is being conducted has limitations. They consist mostly of self-learning tools like viewing videos, answering questions on digital worksheets and doing research on google. In other words, they seem like the type of online learning young adults do at the tertiary level. Unfortunately, they are not young adults and their discipline and focus are vastly different. Some schools use Zoom, which I feel is better as it mimics a classroom. Therefore, from an educational viewpoint, Zoom is ideal. However, there are other issues like privacy, security and even bandwidth if Zoom is used. (Edit: MOE has suspended the use of Zoom)
Impact of Home-Based Learning
I believe that school leaders and teachers understand the limitations. They realise that it cannot replace classroom teaching. When school finally reopens, the teachers will need to scramble and find out whether their students have really learnt? And if they discover gaps, they will be trying their best to bring the children up to speed. This means that you must be prepared for extra lessons in June or July, to ensure your children are fully prepared for the end of year examinations.
No Mid-Year Examinations
Another impact of Home-Based Learning is the cancellation of Mid-Year Examinations (MYE). I think many parents are worried about this, especially for the graduating classes (since the other levels do not have MYE anyway). My son is in Primary Six and I cannot imagine him going for a full PSLE examination with just one mock examination (the Prelims). He would not have the stamina and focus to last. However, that is what he has to do.
There is no doubt that the suspension of school is necessary. The pandemic is spreading, and I am dismayed every time the numbers exceed the previous highs. However, I also need to ensure that I have planned ahead despite the current uncertainty. This includes ensuring that my son does not miss his tuition classes (which have all gone online) – the reality is that tuition is now replacing national schools. I am also going to do mock examinations with him so that he has the stamina and focus to last the entire paper. We have no choice but to embrace online learning the new normal in education.