Thirteen hundred students from Prep to Year 12 at Matthew Flinders Anglican College on the Sunshine Coast will continue to learn from home in Term 2 due to COVID-19 but their remote situation won’t stop them from getting a quality education.
Principal Stuart Meade said the College was well prepared for a remote learning model because the focus had always been to develop tech-savvy classrooms and integrate digital tools for enhanced learning.
“Social distancing measures introduced by State and Federal governments prevent the majority of our students and school community from gathering on campus for the foreseeable future,” Mr Meade said.
“Face-to-face learning is the best way to achieve academic outcomes and to boost health and wellbeing – so we are all looking forward to the day we are back on our beautiful campus,” he said.
“However, we are confident that our College is well placed to adapt to this new scenario and provide a quality education in a remote learning environment.
“For many years, Flinders has encouraged the use of digital tools for innovative classroom learning.
“As a result, our Secondary School students are experienced at using digital platforms such as Google Suite and our custom MyFlinders portal as a natural part of their daily learning and assessment.
“A College survey from the Term 1 remote learning period in the Primary School revealed that 95% of parents found the teachers’ instructions supportive in assisting students to complete their remote learning tasks, with similar feedback in the Secondary School.
“We believe one of the reasons our students have enjoyed a smooth transition to remote learning thus far is because they are confident and capable in the digital space.
“We also thank our Flinders parents for being so supportive of the new situation for learning at home.
“Our teachers are undergoing regular training and are committed to upskilling, which will enhance the online learning experience in Term 2.
“The aim is to become more confident with conducting classes, engaging students and boosting class morale via the screen using the Webex video conferencing platform.
“In these uncertain times, it is reassuring for our students to continue to receive a quality and caring Flinders education from the comfort and safety of their homes.”
Flinders Head of Curriculum Bill Hooper said that for many years, the College had encouraged students as early as Primary School to use technology for deeper learning.
“Research shows that well-integrated technology and 1:1 access to computers increases student engagement in their learning and as a result of this, increases student outcomes,” Mr Hooper said.
“Right from Prep at Flinders, students use a variety of digital platforms to support and extend their learning.
“Parents are encouraged to access their child’s curriculum overviews, daily lesson plans and supporting resources via MyFlinders if they are interested.
“In Year 4, students commence a 1:1 technology program and are provided with an iPad, while in Year 7 students are provided with a 13-inch MacBook.
“This early introduction to computers and digital platforms ensures that by Secondary School our students are confident and capable tech users.”
Mr Hooper said the school community was being trained in using Webex as the new video conferencing tool in order to connect in real time with individuals, groups and whole year levels.
Students and teachers are already comfortable with using digital tools such as Google Suite and the MyFlinders portal, as well as commercial platforms Education Perfect, Pear Deck and Quicktime, to learn collaboratively as well as independently.
“These tools translate well to the remote learning environment as they enable students to access daily lesson plans, share resources, chat on the social stream, submit assessment and receive marks, submit slide presentations, share files and work as groups in real time.
“Of course, we are mindful that face-to-face connection and in-class learning reaps the highest education and social outcomes.
“However, our commitment has always been to guide and challenge our students to prepare for their place in the digital world of the future.
“COVID-19 has forced our College community, and indeed the world, to accelerate the pace with which we become confident at learning in the digital space.”
Image caption: Principal Stuart Meade teaching a Senior School class, prior to COVID-19 social distancing measures being introduced.