Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
As the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to spread, schools and universities across the UAE are shifting to online learning in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Adapting and delivering distance learning to students at this scale has never been attempted before. Then again, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
The UAE has now entered the first week of students, both at school and at university level, starting programmes through distance learning. Learning from home can be a daunting experience for those who have only ever studied in a classroom environment.
Andy Philips, Chief Operating Officer at University of Wollongong in Dubai, shared a few handy tips for students to ensure efficient learning during this period which include making your own classroom, creating an action plan, plotting assignments and classes on a handy calendar and getting a study buddy.
He noted that it is important to know that online learning is not solely digital curriculum alone but is a combination of carefully curated online learning experiences, coaching and assessment, facilitated by technology platforms.
Andy Philips said, “Clear out a space that’s demarcated specifically for studying. Make sure your computers and laptops are cleaned and sanitised regularly.
Arrange your books and notes to ensure you have everything you need. Make it personal by adding colour, a plant, or something to break the monotony.”
He also suggested students to plan their day-to-day activities around their studies. “Commit to spending at least 30 to 45 minutes per day going through your course material prior to your class to ensure there is complete clarity in what is being taught.”
Stressing on the need of plotting assignments and classes on a handy calendar, he said, “Once you receive your course material and class schedule, mark all your assignment deadlines on a calendar. Stick the calendar in a place where you can see it clearly and refer to it regularly. It’s important to have a clear overview of your timetable, workload and due dates for the full duration of your course.”
He also suggested to get a study buddy. “Distance learning can be lonely at times, so why not coordinate your schedule for assignments with a sibling or a parent working from home? This will also allow you to bond with your family while ensuring you stick to your deadline. Alternatively, you can also get an online buddy – this will also ensure you both stick to schedules.”
Philips said that students must say it out loud. “This might seem strange but actually hearing yourself saying the concepts you’ve been studying out loud will keep all the facts safely stored in your mind. If you find it a bit strange to talk to yourself, get an audience by asking a family member to listen -- you can even read your content out loud to your pets!”
Taking breaks after classes is equally important. “Distance learning can be as intense as traditional learning. Make sure you take short breaks between virtual classes in order maximize your learning experience. Taking a ten-minute power nap or a short study break are proven ways to be more productive,” he said.
He told students to ask for help. “It’s perfectly acceptable to speak up and ask for clarification if something is not clear to you. Contact your tutors if you have any questions about your course work. If you find yourself struggling – ask for help. That’s what teachers are there for – to help and guide you through your studies. You can always schedule a one-on-one consultation with your tutor. This also ensures constant engagment for both the tutor and the student,” said Philip.
Besides hosting world-class universities, Dubai is home to 208 private schools that offer 16 different curricula and host more than 295,000 students. From Sunday, schools and universities in Dubai and other emirates transitioned to distance learning in response to school closures due to COVID-19.
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As the first week of distance learning in Dubai schools concluded on Thursday, Knowledge & Human Development Authority (KHDA), Dubai, Director General Dr Abdulla Al Karam said that in the coming days and weeks, the KHDA will keep on working to ensure that the children’s learning is not interrupted.
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He had been scheduled to re-emerge on Friday after a week of recovery and working remotely, but said he would remain at home because he still had a high temperature — one of the symptoms.
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The ministry also announced that 19 cases fully recovered from the coronavirus, after receiving treatment.