Online Teaching and Learning in A Time Of Crisis: China, April 2020

16 April 2020

Life in Beijing is still under lockdown, which affects citizens in their daily commute and shopping for groceries. Body temperature scanners are around every corner and wearing face masks is mandatory for entering public venues. For some, ‘停课不停学 Tíngkè bù tíngxué’ (school might be suspended, but learning shall never stop), especially for 初三 Chūsān S3 and 高三 Gāosān S6. They have been preparing for important exams for months, receiving online teaching and learning materials from schools. Predictably, the priority has been to get S3 and S6 students back to school in Beijing, and we hope that event is just around the corner.

Gabi, a local teacher in the international department of a senior high school in Beijing, writes for SCEN.

It is very impressive that nearly every school in China has responded actively to the unpredictable disaster of Covid-19 by changing the teaching syllabus, organising online teaching training and making plans related to management and home-school communications. In our school, it took only two weeks to adjust our teaching style, to build the online teaching mode and to start internet communications. Although this makes it more difficult to have direct interactions with students, especially to meet their real learning needs, we are making great connections with parents who give strong support in caring for and guiding students in their self-study.

The mentor system in the school has gained a positive reputation by providing individual and personal guidance to each student. If a student misbehaves or loses track in the course of their study, the tutor will be informed immediately and will contact the headteacher or parents. Also, many online learning apps and platforms are competing in providing more economic and versatile strategies for schools to tackle practical issues. So right now, we are getting used to this mode and this will keep improving the quality of our teaching.

Since we have postponed nearly two months of teaching for the current semester, we have made many schemes and plans to prepare for the learning schedule which has been affected. Each school is required to give detailed proposals about classroom separation, segregated seats and the time required for different grades etc. Indoor gathering activities are all forbidden while outdoor activities can only take place with prior notice. We still need to wear masks in class if we go back into the school. But since each decision being made is without precedent, the school has also undertaken many detailed surveys of teachers, students and parents about school management, teaching, course structure as well as other concerns. As for the teaching plans, since we are following our own schedules, the only real problem is the cancelled tests which impact on students anxious about the application process for next year.

This is a global issue, so in our school we are keeping pace with the latest news and policies as things develop.

Beijing, April, 2020