Home-schooling during the Pandemic pause
The pandemic pause has caused a lot of changes, one of them being the closure of schools. Home-schooling gave us all some challenges and some lessons to learn. I think I learnt as much as the kids. Disabled dad was a lot less anxious about his virus fears knowing the children were all home safe. Working with the kids so closely was the bonus. Working with the online system the schools were using, was the greatest challenge. I had to find out just what kind of online education possibilities exist. There had to be something better. I discovered a neat Australian company that really blew me away, Open Learning.
The official pause of school at the start of term 2, is when the real home-schooling eye-opener’s began. Our high-schooler’s worked fine through provided work and constant communication via emails and the occasional zoom session. Apart from the occasional question and checking in, they pretty much handled it on their own. We all kept in touch with teachers and overall the school were really supportive and all went rather smoothly.
Of course it helps if you have two lovely children that are self-organised, self-disciplined, responsible and best mates. However, I am sure that many parents did not have the same kind easy-going experience I had with teenagers.
Public education systems online learning sucked!
Despite my girls strengths for learning online learning did pose them some challenges. Subjects like maths were more difficult than others. There is a major advantage to having someone show you how an equation is solved, rather than just trying to figure it out yourself from a textbook and some notes.
High school already involved a lot of computer work and teachers placing things on line for students to access. Primary school, however, was completely unprepared for online education. I know it was short notice but OneNote was ridiculous. It was unresponsive at times, non-interactive and totally lacking in providing a quality educational experience. All instructions were in small text and with a child that has just learned to read it was impossible to expect our daughter to be able to do any of her work at all without doing it all with her. Worse, she didn’t find it fun or engaging… not exactly instilling a love of learning!
The pandemic pause and its acceleration of the online education field (and the primitive OneNote and email situation) led me to look around at what is really available in online education. This is where I came across Open Learning. An Australian company (ASX:OLL) miles ahead of the rest in providing online courses and software as a service (SaaS) platforms for educational institutions to use to offer online learning to their students.
Could Open Learning be the answer to my children’s home-schooling needs?
These people are really thinking ahead as to not only what education of the future will look like but what the workforce of the future will look like. Some of the top quality institutions that are partnered with OLL (Australian Catholic University, UNSW, Charles Sturt University, University of Newcastle, amongst others, and many prominent overseas universities) clearly reveal the level of faith in the future of the company. I don’t want to be a sales pitch for Open Learning so I will provide some links below if you really want to check them out.
I was most impressed with the CEO’s (Adam Brimo) understanding of the need for creating and supporting critical thinking. Also of collaborative educational opportunities and using social feedback to promote learning. Listening to Brimo gave me hope for the education system of the future and the kind of learning my children could be engaging in.
I actually got excited for a second about the home-schooling possibilities when I found out that Open Learning had partnered with a not-for-profit company called High Resolves. This gave them instant access to the K-12 younger education market.
I believe so. However, I underestimated the stuck-in-their ways, slow move of the public education system. I stupidly believed that the pandemic pause might have got them looking longer term too. Especially seeing as we are a long way from the virus going away or being cured, if at all.
So, I either:
- I send my children back into the fray of public education. More hazardous now due to a highly contagious virus that is unpredictable. A virus that seems to have unknown long-term health consequences. That has unknown effects upon adults and children;
- or I persist with home-schooling the way it has been going the last couple of months, inefficient and limited.
I wish I had the choice of keeping my children safe, and keeping them educated. It would sure help with getting on with life. Helping their disabled Dad’s anxiety attacks would help a lot too. His vulnerable health situation leaves him really struggling.
Where to from here?
The pandemic pause has allowed us all to stop for a second and really think about where we are going. Who are we really, and what are our priorities? What kind of a future do we want? As individuals, families, businesses, and as humans beings…. all in it together on this wonderful planet of ours? How we learn and how we work are just two aspects of our lives that need some serious review.
Personally I don’t want to go back to how things were as frankly it could be so much better. I don’t even want to go to a “new normal”. I think we should all use this opportunity for real change and to develop a broader vision. In education, a vision like Open Learning’s is a good start.
This pandemic is an opportunity to create a better, brighter, smarter, more sustainable, more connected future. This is an opportunity to make a “new amazing” or even a “new extraordinary”. That is the kind of future we owe our children!
P.S. May 2020
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