At the seminar "The future of online education in Vietnam", an expert observation was made that caught the audience's attention: "5 to 7 year olds often find it more difficult to retain information when taught online than secondary-level and university students.”
With that in mind, is there a truly suitable e-learning solution for students in grades 1 and 2, even after the pandemic ends?
To answer this question, we spoke to the ICS Preschool - Primary School System (I Can School), one of the few educational institutions that have succeeded in organizing online learning for primary school students.
Developing self-study habits from Day 1
At ICS, in addition to academics, students are also given the opportunity to learn about respect, build their own individual values, develop their personal talents, and are taught with necessary skills for their future through Tectonic Thinking.
Perhaps that is also the reason why after switching to the online learning model, students at ICS were able to adapt very quickly and maintained a serious learning attitude even when they weren't in their physical classrooms.
Ms. Nguyen Thuy Uyen Phuong (Chairman of the ICS School Council) said: “Online learning requires students to be prepared for a new routine. Going to school in-person is one kind of routine, online learning is another. ”
The school has also specifically instructed parents to build a routine with their children when studying at home by dividing their study sessions into three different phases: before, during and after class.
The first phase (before studying) means setting up a quiet space, with a table and chair; standard learning equipment to avoid technical errors; install and learn how the online software works first; memorize the class schedule. Before class time, students also need to have their homework completed as assigned.
During the lesson, parents can participate in learning with their children to support them when needed, such as helping them navigate the online functions on the device, and give constructive comments after class to the teachers, as well as remind their children to complete the assigned exercises for homework.
“According to our observations, families that are well-prepared for these lessons usually have children who retain the information taught in their online class more effectively. The trick here is to build a habit of sitting at the computer before starting, and to take online learning seriously, as it is not just a band aid solution,” Ms. Uyen Phuong commented.
Online teaching: How should you prepare?
Ms. Uyen Phuong added that there are four main factors that help make the online learning model more efficient. These factors include: technological foundation, the teacher's teaching methods, parent’s cooperation, and other operational support.
In order to ensure these four above-mentioned factors are at play, ICS planned the transition to online learning very early on — before the 2021 Lunar New Year, just before the third wave of COVID-19 happened. With their early preparation, ICS was able to launch a well-established online learning program, with support from a dedicated online classroom platform for education, ClassIn.
Mr. Chau — whose child enrolled at ICS shared: “Before Tet, the school announced that if there was a possibility that social distancing was mandatory, they would switch to online learning. I was hesitant. But I was very surprised after the first day of online learning because my daughter was so happy and was even looking forward to her class the following day.”
“I think the school has prepared the necessary instructions and equipment for parents very well. Before teaching, we also met with other parents who were already familiar with the system (ClassIn), to get acquainted with how it works in order to support our children,” he added.
For teachers, ICS has provided the essential training so they can maximize the features on ClassIn to actively build new teaching materials in the form of "gameization"; which is basically the integration of images and games to make it more engaging for students during their lessons.
Tran, a student currently in grade 3 at ICS shared: “I like the feature where the program (ClassIn) allows you to raise your hands. I press the button first, and my teacher will invite me to answer. I also like to use the pen feature to write because there are a lot of colors to choose from. And you can also play games!”
With the help of ClassIn, teachers can observe each child's presence during the lecture, retain students in activities, edit materials on time, and give them rewards. Currently, almost 90% of activities that typically happen in an in-person classroom setting can also happen with ClassIn. Therefore, the experience and quality of teaching between classroom and ClassIn does not seem to make a big difference.
When asked about her teaching experience with the online educational platform, Ms. Bui Thi Tuyet Trinh - Head of Block 1 at ICS - said: “The teachers are very well supported, which helps us stay engaged and better connect with our students. ”
After working with ICS, Mr. Nhan Do (ClassIn Strategic Director) also said that: “It is time to erase the mindset that online teaching is not as good as traditional teaching. To me, coupled with serious investment in technology platforms, along with content and teaching methods, online classes can maintain the students' love for learning.”
“I believe it is entirely possible to teach students in grades 1 and 2 online. However, there are elements of remote learning that should stick around even after the crisis. I agree to Ms. Uyen Phuong when she said online teaching is not a band aid solution, but an important self-study skill for the future."