Concord’s Sixth Form students have been reflecting on the start of a new term, returning home and undergoing a remote learning programme – a first experience for many students and staff.
“I believe that our school is very successful in providing us with online learning and teaching. We have the opportunity to continue with our studies as usual. As all of our teachers were given highly technological equipment, thereby allowing the lessons to take place; we continue to participate in class discussions and receive homework. When teachers mark our work, we can see all the detailed feedback written beside our answers. If students have struggles with some topics and there is no time to go through them in class, fortunately, a separate meeting can be arranged. One of the most important features is that the lessons are recorded, so any student who has troubles with internet connection may watch the lessons later. Nonetheless, it is often helpful to watch the explanations again. Even though, using the screen for the whole day might be ‘tiring’, there is no other possibility to keep the same high standards of receiving education at the current world situation, so we are highly privileged.”
“First of all, I would like to say thank you to all of the staff who have been working hard and looking after me and other students since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak. Overall, I would say that online learning has been going well so far. The teachers have been extremely caring and understanding during the current situation, about both the students’ academic aspect and the well-being. Hence, even though there exists the lack of physical classes and direct interactions, I am still able to receive helpful feedback and answers from my teachers, which have been playing a main role in my revision for the upcoming exams. However, the major downside of online studying has been the isolation from my classmates whom I miss greatly. As each class only lasts 30 minutes, there is nearly no time for communication nor simple greetings between each other. I just miss everyone at Concord a lot.”
“Even though many Concord students are privileged enough to be familiar with the technology used in online learning, the transition from traditional classroom learning to online learning has still been tough for many of us. While things like time differences and IT errors are certainly barriers to learning, I personally feel the biggest barrier has been the lack of ‘physical’ engagement between peers and teachers. Meeting my friends and teachers virtually is more than satisfactory to fulfil my academic requirements but nothing can parallel the levels of engagement found in a Concord classroom. Nevertheless, the Concord spirit of always putting you’re 100% into everything still can be felt through the screen, whether it be our teachers marking our essays at lightning speed or classmates enthusiastically asking questions. The Concord Community might be physically separate but is still virtually supporting each other and growing!”
“For me, the main benefit of being able to return home is to be close once again with family. College life is fun, but it reminds you that you do leave a part of you – family – behind, along the way.
“I also get more time to pursue other non-academic interests. I can practice music much more now – the instruments are just a few metres away, and I don’t get noise complaints!
“However, I find it difficult academically. There are so many distractions at home that diverts my attention, so it is not straightforward to do work both with the school and independently. I, with regret but without hesitation, admit that my academic standards have certainly dropped, but am trying to get it back on track.”
“For all 6.1 and 6.2, the spring is tagged with “AS” and “A-level”. While everyone was busy being nervous and excited, no one saw this coming. This situation happening worldwide does change a lot of things. Three more months of busy school life is replaced by a special “vacation”, a vacation that we have our people all around the world as usual, surprisingly, this time, it is not wanted. Despite us saying how “exhausting” school can be, the truth is that everyone, every single one of us, misses it, the most. We cry, we smile, we watch the coach driving the people away, people who we even are wishing to spend every second with, or “were”.
“Life goes on. Online teaching comes along. As do the concerns about it: the effectiveness of itself, considering it needs to connect people from literally the whole world; the effectiveness of students, thinking about how interesting it can be when only one person and one page on a laptop is involved. But while people are getting familiar with this only option, the truth turns out to be quite surprising…
“In terms of teaching itself, we have certain study time guaranteed, and with teachers’ questions that might be popping out of the screen at any time, honestly speaking, it could be technically difficult not to focus. Also, we are all tightened up for the revision at this stage, laptop on, work as a class, laptop off, self-study followed. This few hours can be really effective if we just simply understand our priority. After all, face to face teaching or not, it all comes down to people’s own choices. What this new way provides us with includes class materials and studying but is not limited to it. Every greeting at tutor time, every small talk during classes can bind us closely together. We are saying good morning at both sunrise and sunset. We are giving and given caring to and from all over the world. For 6.1s, it stands for every sense of normality; for the 6.2s, it just seems like every second we spend could be a back count, which makes it even more valuable. We are grateful. Online teaching, it’s not perfect. But we see obstacles taken down one by one, and we have teachers, technicians, and all people behind it to thank for.
“Life goes on. This is what we want the most, what the whole world wants the most. No one wants any of this to happen. It is a challenge for everyone. But guess what, we don’t back off. We, proudly as the future scientists, economists, doctors, artists, lawyers, historians…, don’t back off, we choose to stand up and face it, we choose to be grateful instead of complaining, we choose to make things better even when it may not be.
“We are under the same sky; the whole world is in this together. And we hope everyone in our second home are all safe and well!”
“As a student who actively seeks out libraries or classrooms to work in, it is challenging balancing activities such as studying, sleeping and eating all in the same room. This, I believe, is due to the different environment or mood in which the place gives off. Classrooms and libraries have purpose and are intended to be utilised for studying, which creates an atmosphere that encourages focus and concentration. As a boarding student I finish the work that I have to do in a library or classroom before heading to my room to relax. Personally, bedrooms tend to be used as a means of relaxation after a rigorous day at school.
“In light of recent events, online schooling has been forcing students all around the globe to work in their rooms. Which has been useful in order to continue our education however, it has also introduced an unexpected obstacle in our path. It has been a struggle to get the proper motivation to study and focus when our bed is just inches away…. I am sure this won’t apply to every student especially those who have study rooms or are used to studying in their room, but this is what I am currently facing and have found ways around this. For example, my sister and I occasionally switch rooms in order to study in a different environment. Overall it has been challenging but we must remain rigorous.”
“The way in which online learning has affected me has been very positive. With lessons reduced to 30 minutes long, I am actually able to concentrate more and make the most out of every minute. Whilst some students make hand-written notes, I usually prefer to make notes and do my work electronically anyway so everything becoming digitalized has been beneficial for me. Although distance learning may have increased communication difficulties, I am still able to ask questions both during lesson time and after school, as well as to get feedback on my homework. I also like the fact that all lessons are recorded, which allows me to review certain sections at a later time. Overall, I would say that I feel extremely privileged to be at Concord, where the outbreak of this global pandemic has had little negative impacts on my learning.”
“Online teaching at Concord started as soon as people were allowed to leave for home. This was on March 16th. Some of my classmates were still attending classes back at Concord whilst I was already having to self-isolate for 14 days at home, away from my parents. The classes felt the same but different. Teachers got to grips with the “Microsoft Teams” software quite quickly and the school life continued, even though from home, for me.
“I am currently studying for my final examinations with great help from all my teachers that does not seem any different than it was when I was back at Concord.”
“After hurdling successfully over the first obstacle – sending international students safely back home in the midst of a chaotic outbreak – Concord College faced a new challenge: educating their students scattered across the globe. Fortunately, the Concord community thrives in challenges! Although online lessons proved their own difficulties, we were able to adjust to these differences – teacher-student interactions and time differences, to name a few. The most important thing that I learnt during this time was to be thankful for the technology available to us, and, of course, for the helpful, patient, and supportive staff who are committed to keep us educated! A very big thank you goes to all teachers, to the IT staff, and to the management team for making all the right decisions in this difficult time.”
“In this difficult situation, when everyone is in different parts of the world trying to educate themselves, online education is our only way to keep up with the syllabus. Of course, it is far from perfect. First of all, time difference. Our college as an international institution has students all around the world. Online lessons run in UK time, so for some students school ends at 10pm or even 11pm, which may not be counted as a significant problem regarding the compulsory quarantine regime. Secondly, poor connection and technological issues. In my country that happens mostly because all the pupils, students and employees are using internet at roughly the same time to study/work from home. This especially relates to my house where besides me there are 5 more family members using our Wi-Fi for their studies and work. And the last, the most important disadvantage as for me is that there is no face-to-face communication. It is much harder to follow the teacher without eye contact, without 100 percent confidence that if you ask something, you will be heard and given an answer immediately. Fortunately, we’d almost finished the syllabus when we were told to fly back to our home countries in view of the virus, so we hadn’t had a lot of new topics to cover.”