This is the hottest topic and question for us here in Saudi at the moment. With less expat school teachers here, others out-of-country because of the travel restrictions, and some not wanting to teach either in school or virtually, will Saudi lift virtual school requirement and let students return physically to schools after the set date of October 18, 2020?
We have just completed our first week in virtual school here in Saudi. Most schools are not in session yet. Our friends will be starting in 2 weeks, while the majority of Saudi students will start next week. MOE has said that starting will be virtual for all schools for 7 weeks.
This week has been much better than last semester, a great improvement! Schools being unprepared this past spring and teachers scrambling to get online platforms working, etc, the lessons were poorly given and my kid was progressively unmotivated to do the work. The teacher would come on once or twice a week and just talk about the weekend, coronavirus stress, play a game, etc. The student was on their own, with much more parent involvement, to get any work done and to plan their day and week. Maybe in high school this could work, but definitely not the lower grades.
This time around the teacher is on twice a day, as well as small group meetings during the week with other classmates. You get the sense school is really ON and you ARE involved in a class setting. There is a schedule to be followed and a lot of lessons use Flipgrid for students to make live videos to turn in as an assignment. It’s more connective than last time. Definitely more positive and pro teaching, more coaching and involvement from both teachers and students. This school has 4 days of core subjects like math, reading, writing, science and social studies. Then the 5th day, thus ending the week, are the specials such as Arabic, music, art and PE.
Can’t touch the lowest grades, PreK and Kindergarten, as technology seems to make it worse. We are going to see the most problems with this system. It’s not engaging enough, with no peers to talk to, short attention span and limited learning ability, virtual learning is a MEGA FAIL! It’s like watching interactive TV, which gets boring in about 5-10 minutes. There is no way that online teachers can reach these youngest learners, and I bet these teachers will be the most frustrated as well as parents and students. Here we do not need better technology, we in fact don’t need it at all! Bring on the glitter and dress up clothes, books and imagination!
Cue the following article written by Hebshi Alshammari, published in Arab News on August 26, 2020.