Manuals for Distance Learning Applications
Long-term Distance Learning Policy
Doha International School is committed to helping its students fulfill their potential and providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to face life’s challenges, objectively and intelligently. As we are currently in a state of emergency due to the emergence of the coronavirus, COVID-19, we are all faced with uncertainty and new challenges; and although we are physically unable to interact with each other, we humans are resilient and no matter what the challenges, we can support each other and move forward using whatever means necessary. Collectively we have the power to channel uncertainty into curiosity that leads to discovery and understanding. In fact this is the essence of learning; not memorization, not end of year examinations and not getting a full mark.
We see this world-wide crisis as an opportunity to explore and utilize new ways of connecting, learning and collaborating. In our commitment to enable learning, and the parents’ commitment to supporting their children, our partnership will take on a different form as we embark onto the journey of Distance Learning. For this partnership to succeed, we don’t need the latest high-tech devices. We don’t need for every child to have a personal tablet, high speed internet 24/7 and a printer. We don’t need to be on-line at the same time, all the time. What we really need is three things:
- Careful planning and dedication from our wonderful teachers
- Student motivation and engagement at home
- Strong parent support for this new way of learning.
The purpose of the Distance Learning Policy is to:
- Ensure that the school will continue to teach its students during extended times of school closure.
- Define the mechanisms and regulations through which learning and information are enabled and exchanged between the school, the students and their families.
- Define the roles and responsibilities of the relevant stakeholders in the on-line learning experience.
- Define how students will provide feedback for assessment and how teachers will monitor the student’s development.
Definition of Distance Learning
According to the EU commission (NRDC), It is education and training imparted at a distance through communication media: books, radio, TV, telephone, correspondence, computer or video.
Also known as e-learning, it is described by OECD (Trends education) as a form of education in which teachers and students are physically separated. Various technologies such as Skype or Zoom allow for teachers and students to interact and communicate.
WestEd, a regional educational laboratory for the Western United States, identifies three elements of distance education:
- Separation of teacher and learner during at least a majority of each instructional process;
- Use of educational media to unite teacher and learner and carry course content; and
- Provision of two-way communication between teacher and learner.
Communication between teachers and students can be asynchronous or synchronous. Synchronous instruction is the simultaneous participation of the teacher and students via interactive video/TV, computer conferencing, and similar technologies that require a working internet connection for both teacher and student. This is also referred to as “real time” interaction.
Asynchronous instruction is one-way communication delivering prerecorded instruction via an online or Web-based application, with responses via the same application, or e-mail, or telephone or other web-based applications. Asynchronous instruction has the benefits of allowing time for response preparation and learning to take place at any time of the day or night.
Benefits of Distance Learning
- ANY TIME – Flexible schedules allow students to study whenever they choose, day or night, for long or short periods.
- ANY PLACE – Multiple locations for learning are possible using laptops, or computers at home, or smartphones in the library, or at school.
- ANY PATH – Many delivery options are possible and permits the selection or combination of delivery technology to suit the course or student and whether they have access to low technology options or high technology options. It can also support tailoring the delivery mode to the student’s learning style.
- ANY PACE – Individualized instruction allows students to set the pace of learning. It means the student can accelerate a course or slow it down, depending on his/her learning style or other needs. Computer programs can test students and determine which topics have been learned, which topics require more work, and then tailor the instructional program to meet those specific needs.
Drawbacks of Distance Learning
There are two main drawbacks with distance learning that are relevant to our school’s context:
- Unlike middle school, high school and university students, children in the primary level will need a great amount of support and time-management from parents at home. Moreover children in the early years and lower primary (KG to Grade 2) will require their parent or guardian to take the role of a second teacher at home, to fully execute and supervise the learning activities in partnership with the class teacher. This represents a greater challenge for working parents and especially those with multiple children.
- If delivered over a long period of time, it can lead to isolation and lack of human interaction, as socialization is a critical aspect of learning and child development.
INSTRUCTION DURING DISTANCE LEARNING
Over the course of this Distance Learning time period, our teachers will partner with parents to deliver learning experiences that will cover the content of the school curriculum as well as help the students expand how they approach new learning. Teachers and administrators will communicate with parents through selected distance learning platforms to engage students in rich learning tasks. They will provide direction and support to families with the understanding that task completion depends on each individual families’ circumstances.
Therefore the families of our students will have enough flexibility and support to actively participate in their child’s learning by enabling them to take responsibility and ownership of their learning, while assisting the younger age groups in accessing online resources and apps. We recognize that parents may have more than one child to guide, and may have limited technical and digital resources. This is why we will ensure that online learning experiences within one day will not exceed 1 hour of computer time; most of the learning and studying will actually take place off-line.
We ask parents for the following support:
- Read the guidelines for downloading and using the primary Learning Management System (LMS) that will be used by the school. Primarily we will use Google Classroom for Upper Primary and Class Dojo for KG and Lower Primary.
- Learn about these apps and increase your familiarity with the accounts that the teachers have set up for the students, as these will be the primary instructional platforms for distance learning.
- Read the announcements that get sent to you from the school via Whatsapp or email, and be prompt when feedback is requested.
- Read the announcements that get sent to you from your child’s teachers on the Distance Learning platform, especially the Sunday morning messages which will include the weekly plan and important updates.
- Help your child access the dedicated distance learning platform for their class and help them join their relevant subject classes. Provide support and supervision when your child gets redirected to a different website or application to access online exercises or videos or other learning materials.
- Help your child read the learning activities and tasks posted for them.
- Provide a suitable place in your home or where you are temporarily located so your child can work on his/her assigned tasks on and off-line and complete independent reading and writing each day.
- Encourage and monitor the child’s engagement and comments on posted learning materials and teacher questions.
- Manage your child’s time for online and offline learning, and maintain a stable uniform schedule at home (morning, afternoon or evening).
- Encourage your child to complete the assignments by the given deadlines. Reward them when they do, and penalize them when they don’t.
- Be mindful of your child’s screen time as overexposure can be harmful and make sure that they fully utilize their textbooks, workbooks and notebooks.
- Support emotional balance by participating in reflections, physical activities, conversation and play with your child OFF-LINE. You can organize the house together, cook together, clean and do creative projects together in your free time.
Methods of Instruction for Grades 1,2,3, 4, 5 and 6:
Teachers will post:
- The weekly plan
- Some revision and warm up exercises or probes
- Learning objectives
- Recorded lesson, explanations and demonstrations (this could be a video or an audio file or a powerpoint presentation or a PDF)
- Additional Links and online resources for students to use.
- Instructions for parents on how to support the students at home.
- Instructions for students on how to complete assignments and learning activities.
- Instructions for students on how to submit their answers and assignments.
Most of the actual studying and learning will take place off-line using the student books and workbooks at home. Students can take pictures or videos of their work and send them back to the teacher using their Distance Learning Platform.
Methods of Instruction for KG1 and KG2:
Teachers will post:
- The weekly plan
- Daily revision and warm up songs and rhymes of the Circle Time segment
- Instructions for parents on how to support their child at home and how to conduct learning activities and creative projects with them.
- video and audio recordings of the teachers communicating and explaining lessons to the students
- educational videos, songs and other prompts to engage in learning and physical activity.
The main learning resources are the student books, workbooks, notebooks and additional worksheets that teachers may request for you to collect from school if you do not have access to a printer.
Teachers may also share additional online resources to support the delivery of the lessons and provide additional practice or useful information to students who are looking for an extra challenge.
ASSESSMENT DURING DISTANCE LEARNING
The level of engagement and participation of students may drastically affect the outcome of their learning, and it is in our understanding that parents will play a huge role in enabling student participation. So to be fair, we will employ various methods of assessment based on the students’ level of participation. The focus of assessment will be on continued learning and fulfilling personal milestones rather than placing too much weight on mid-term and end-of-term exams. Moreover, in some instances, students may be allowed to choose the way in which they would like to be assessed and present evidence of their learning. They may type answers directly on the distance learning platform, or write, or draw, or record an audio, or record a video then post it on the platform.
Students will be given ample time to complete assignments.
Probing student understanding of a lesson
Teachers will gauge the students’ understanding of a lesson through a probe that encourages student participation. This will also help the teacher revise the lesson content and adjust the teaching method for the betterment of student understanding. Some examples of probes:
- One-answer or multiple choice questions
- Engaging in a short discussion (during live interaction)
- Stating an opinion
- Solving one example of a problem
- Rephrasing vocabulary or learning concepts
- Presenting real life examples from the student’s environment
Students will be given a day to respond to the probe, and the teacher may provide feedback promptly or once most students have responded.
Teachers will measure student progress and proficiency level through the activities and assignments that students are given on the LMS. Points are awarded according to descriptive rubrics set by teachers for each individual subject, and rubrics may vary between different grade levels and different assignments.
Teachers may measure student’s proficiency in specific skills and knowledge areas by setting interim online multiple-choice quizzes or assignments for grammar, composition, reading or recitations or solving problems, for which a specific time-frame and monitoring mechanism will be specified by the teacher.
Students in grade 1 and 2 who require constant support from their parents may be provided with answer keys for self assessment at home.
International Assessments (ISA)
OPTIONAL. If parents agree for their children to participate in the International Schools Assessments provided by ACER (Australian Center for Educational Research) in the subjects of Math, English Writing and Reading and Science, we will opt for full online participation. However, special permission and arrangements would need to be made for students to be physically present at the school for both the practice exams and actual exam dates.. These exams are held in February of every year.
Teachers will provide daily constructive feedback for each student, depending on the students’ level of participation and engagement.
Teachers will provide marks for quizzes and rubric descriptors as feedback to student assignments on a weekly basis.
Parents may also report to the teachers on their child’s progress through parent assessment and monitoring at home.
Upon return to the school, a more formal one-on-one assessment will be administered to remedy any weaknesses as needed and to provide more concrete data for reporting.
COMMUNICATION DURING DISTANCE LEARNING
Currently, students are not required to engage with teachers through live video. However, there may be instances where this form of engagement with the teacher and other students may become necessary to prevent the feeling of isolation for students and to insure that they maintain their social and communication skills. Social interaction is crucial for a child’s mental and emotional development, and in the future, we will create opportunities for a healthy, safe and well monitored live interactions between teachers, students and their parents.
Teachers have specific daily working hours when they will be present online, during which you or your child can ask questions. Any messages that are sent outside these working hours will be attended to the next time the teacher is online.
These hours will be announced to you by the teacher, and we ask that you respect the teacher’s privacy in this matter as she may be working from home.
We will provide you with starter information and tutorials on how to use the LMSs. The internet is also filled with many videos explaining how to use these applications as well as other useful digital programs in several languages. If you are having some problems using the programs, we ask you to first try to find the answers and solutions yourselves by carefully watching and reading the information that we’ve provided you, and by searching for answers online, BEFORE getting in touch with us for technical support.
To insure regulated streamlined communications and for the purpose of providing physical documentation of the school’s communications, we ask you to kindly follow these guidelines for communicating with the school, especially during Long-term Distance Learning
|For Questions about….||Contact one of the following…|
|Student lessons, assignments, educational resources||• The subject teacher on Class Dojo or
• The subject teacher on Google Classroom
|Technical problems||• E-mail to email@example.com
• Whatsapp message to +97450004839
|Any other issues that are not related to Distance Learning||• E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
• Whatsapp message to +97450004839
WE MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE TO TAKE A DIRECT PHONE CALL ON THE SCHOOL NUMBERS