Remote Learning: The Pros and Cons

Posted by Kambala

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on people’s lives. Perhaps the most significant impact has been on education. Teachers have had to adapt quickly as the spread of coronavirus prompted more stringent social distancing measures for the safety of all.

The remote learning experience has its advantages and disadvantages. Positives can be seen with the increased independence of students, the growth shown with Information Technology (IT) skills of all members of the community and increased time students have spent with their families. Conversely the remote learning experience is not without challenges. Students and teachers have lost face-to-face connection(s), difficulties for dependent learners are exacerbated and life for working families has been shifted on a foundational level.

Undoubtedly, the greatest positive of remote learning is the development of all students’ Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills. The growth and development of these skills in such a short period of time is awe-inspiring. Students have displayed great courage embracing the challenge (and frustrations) that this can bring.

The remote learning experience also requires a greater level of independence from students when compared with traditional classroom learning. Teachers have noticed a growth in the girls’ independence during this period. This is a valuable life skill for empowering our young women and definitely a positive overall outcome.

Remote learning has highlighted the calibre of professionals here at Kambala. Adapting pedagogy to an online environment in a short space of time—whilst ensuring that learning experiences remained engaging and catered to the diverse learning needs of our girls—proved challenging. The fast transition of all staff to use online platforms effectively was crucial to curriculum delivery and is testament to the professionalism of Kambala staff.

Care and community are at the heart of Kambala’s educational philosophy. The dedication and skill required to nurture and challenge the girls in an online environment is one that the teachers worked tirelessly to uphold. Implementation of remote learning practices allowed our students to continue their education in the comfort and safety of their own homes; it allowed parents and children to spend more time together. This was welcomed greatly by our families.

“They are taking-to remote learning so well and I’ll be sad to send them back to school!” – Mrs S Dan, Kambala parent

While it is widely acknowledged that parents valued the opportunity for the girls to continue their Kambala education at home, we also faced challenges in the transition to remote learning. The spread of COVID-19 meant that many families had to juggle busy work commitments from home, whilst assisting their children with classwork. Online delivery of education can be an effective alternative medium for the self-disciplined student but it is certainly a challenging prospect for more dependent learners.

The most significant disadvantage of remote learning is, unsurprisingly, that students miss the connection of face-to-face contact with their peers and teachers. The vibrant social and classroom engagement of students is at the heart of what makes Kambala a dynamic community. Aware of the need to foster a sense of belonging, staff provided several virtual experiences for the girls to connect, including the Virtual Senior Athletics Carnival, lunchtime House Zoom hangouts and support from the School Psychologists.

While nothing can replace face-to-face teaching, this experience has bolstered our students’ approach to resilience, independence and creativity when it comes to making connections. Some of these adapted teaching methods are poised to find a permanent place in the classroom when students return to school.

Remote learning at Kambala proved a steep learning curve. However, as a dynamic hub of innovation and academic excellence, Kambala girls will return to School empowered and ready for the next part of their educational journey.

About the Author

Joanne Giannini is Junior School Director of Curriculum at Kambala. She has over 20 years of education experience in Australia and the U.S.A. For the past 10 years, Joanne has held leadership positions within Catholic education. Joanne holds a Master’s degree in both Educational Leadership and Religious Education. She has a passion for professional learning and teacher education to ensure the diverse learning needs of students are met through current, innovative and research-based pedagogy.