Amid the growing concerns of COVID-19 spread in South Korea, international schools are planning and have instituted online learning programs that were rolled out to all students during school closure.
Now a global pandemic, international schools in Seoul, are in their fourth week of online learning. Dwight’s online learning program’s stated mission is to harness innovative technologies while keeping its core principles in mind -- personalized learning, global vision, and community, which are the three pillars and the foundation of all Dwight schools.
International Schools in Korea are fortunate to be located in a country that boasts some of the world’s fastest internet speeds, thereby granting the opportunity for providing an immersive online environment where the interface between technology and life is seamless and students are technologically engaged.
Online learning may be new to some; however, Dwight students have been taught invaluable approaches to learning with digital citizenship skills as a requirement. Online learning programs should really be an extension of classrooms, with teachers delivering lessons in real time. The methods for online learning should be shaped differently across schools and curriculum according to age. For instance, In the Dwight Primary Years Program (PYP), students use Seesaw (an application that allows age appropriate communication and feedback). The Google Educational Suite, according to Frank Vink, Dean of Technology and Innovation at Dwight School, provides students with greater flexibility in which to work creatively on assignments while still allowing for social interaction during this time of social distancing.
The success of online learning is also dependent on support from parents and guardians at home. These strategies include ideas for student wellness and the impact of screen time on student learning. Parents input, and flexibility, is beneficial to international schools that may be making improvements along the way. It is important that parents know they are part of the learning community, and that there is a strong partnership between home and school which enhances the learning experience and strengthens the community. Dancing challenges, fun contests, online assemblies, wellness announcements, and recorded book readings are just a few of the interactive and very special elements that schools can incorporate while maintaining the rigor of the school program.
The online educational reality is spectacular in terms of the world of possibilities in the new paradigm of educating for the future. Where access to a physical campus is not possible (COVID-19 or not), students’ needs don’t change. Students still require education and teachers as guides and coaches. Learning still happens and knowledge is transferred. Creativity is evident and students continue to flourish despite any potential change to the learning platform. Teachers know that wherever their students are in the world, they are part of a global community that not only places an emphasis on academic success; but that they are also part of a community that cares.
A recent online technology lesson at Dwight saw creativity with entrepreneurial evidence. Students sent CAD designs to teachers and designed a final product using the many tools available to them online through the Makerspace design lab. Completed designs are modeled and once produced, physical products are shipped back to students’ homes across the city.
Whatever your impression of online was in the past, is now just that- a past opinion. Online learning has come with a ‘bang, not a whimper’. The future is now. Dwight, like other private schools, may be making strides that many schools, students, parents and teachers may consider challenging at the moment; however, the future of online learning, after COVID-19, will shed new light on the way education is provided in the future.
The writer is head of Dwight School Seoul, a part of the Dwight School International network of schools. The views reflected in the article are his own. -- Ed.