The regular spring break in the UAE was scheduled from March 29 to April 12, 2020. As a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the UAE, the Ministry of Education (MOE), however, announced the closure of schools in the UAE from March 8, 2020, two weeks earlier than the planned schedule. To compensate for the lack of formal classroom lectures, the government, as well as the organisers of private schools, will roll out programmes for distance education in the UAE from 22 March, 2020 to 1 April, 2020.
PROGRAMMES FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION IN THE UAE
The online programmes will help to ensure children’s educational progress remains unaffected.
- Since these will be remote learning programmes, parents will need to ensure that their wards have a designated space to study and have computers, tablets or smartphones available.
- A good internet connection will also be necessary as some e-learning systems integrate voice call or video streaming options to enable real-time communication between students and teachers.
HOW WILL THIS DISTANCE LEARNING PLAN IN THE UAE WORK
Most schools have announced plans to start the remote learning programme in the UAE with a “study pack”. It will contain a set of study resources along with links for tasks that have to be completed and submitted online.
Certain schools, such as the institutes managed by Ambassador Group, have announced plans to set up a portal for live sessions, in addition to prerecorded content. This way students and teachers can interact and discuss projects in real-time during evenings, which can be moderated by parents as well.
The GEMS group has said that teachers will send weekly timetables for students, outlining each subject with specific details on the timings for live interactions through their technology platforms.
ONLINE LEARNING PROGRAM ORGANISED BY GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS IN THE UAE
The Ministry of Education will initiate a home-teaching programme known as ‘Learn from Afar’ through its website for all government schools from March 22 to April 5, 2020.
MoE, along with the Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart University, HBMSU, also created modules pertaining to distance education in the UAE titled ‘How to be an Online Tutor in 24 hours’ for 42,000 teachers and academic staff using a free e-training course, helping them to understand the mechanics of remote learning in the UAE.
To ensure the seamless execution of pilot learning courses, MOE has let students of different public schools undergo a number of tests.
Students enrolled in grades five to eight tried out the programme for distance education from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Wednesday, March 3, 2020. However, for students of Grade 10 to 12, the programme was piloted on Thursday, March 4, 2020.
EDUCATIONAL MEASURES TAKEN BY PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN THE UAE
Many private schools and nurseries in the UAE are geared to set up their own distance-learning programmes using remote learning tools in a bid to help students cope with the backlog.
E-learning tools used by the UAE Private Schools
Various nurseries and schools including Jumeirah International Nursery, Regent International School and SunMarke School are set to take steps to facilitate students with an enriched learning experience at home. They will use some well-known distance learning apps for remote education. For now, they are considering:
A student-driven digital app, Seesaw enables interaction between students and teachers, while offering parents a real-time glimpse into their children’s work. Regent International School has decided to set up a platform on this app to ensure kids learn their lessons effectively at home.
Educational institutes such as SunMarke School and Dubai British School will use Microsoft Teams to ensure collaboration between students and their peers as well as teachers.
The online platform is a hub of teamwork, combining chat, file storage, video meetings and application storage. Students will get to receive feedback from their teachers, in case they have any questions to ask or doubts to clear.
Jumeirah International Nursery (JIN) has even started imparting e-learning to students via ClassApp, an app that offers a highly individualised approach. Students can log onto the app and get pre-recorded videos using which they can continue receiving lessons.
The teachers at JIN have developed over 300 videos that cover seven areas of the Earliest Foundation Stage Framework Curriculum. The students can learn about Arabic, French, gymnastics, music, yoga and more via these three to six-minute videos.
The virtual learning programme is so well-structured that the entire day of kids is planned out. It includes a room for nap time, breakfast and lunch while also enabling student-led activities.
Jumeirah International Nursery has also planned ahead by preparing translations of the videos in Hindi and Tagalog. It will help cater to those kids who are taught by their caretakers.
RAK Academy and schools run by Ambassador Education will use Google Classroom, a free web service and app that connects learners and instructors. RAK Academy has five campuses but students enrolled from grade two upwards will be facilitated by the tool mainly used for online classes.
The app saves time and helps discuss study materials. Most importantly, it streamlines the process of sharing documents and assignments between students and teachers.
RAK Academy will offer lessons to the students in the primary section of the school using a top-notch app, ClassDojo. The app allows students and teachers to share photos, videos and other content. Teachers can also send updates about children’s progress to parents, using this app.
In addition to this initiative, many other precautionary measures are being taken to ensure the health and safety of the public in the UAE. Cancellation or delay of events across the emirates is an integral part of the efforts taken by the government to control the spread of the COVID-19.
Although the Ministry is taking steps to prevent the disease, you also need to take protective measures to save yourself from getting Coronavirus in the UAE.
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