Virtual Classroom success

By the end of 2020, the school had completed two separate periods of offsite learning due to the Coronavirus pandemic. For most students, this totalled 15 weeks and 2 days or 1½ terms.

The first remote learning period ran from March 17 to May 22 with the second phase from 5 August to 12 October.
The Virtual Classroom Programme was a detailed set of protocols and guidelines designed by staff to ensure a successful remote learning experience. The Virtual Classroom Programme utilised existing digital platforms of Agora and Zoom. The protocols for teachers and students established how classes and the school day would operate in a virtual context. The aim was to maintain the learning continuity, purpose and routine for our students during a disrupted year.

Early on we identified that remote learning would involve a range of challenges for students, families and teaching staff. In order to maximise the efficacy of the programme, the school monitored closely the perceptions and wellbeing of the school community. Surveys were distributed to students, staff and parents at numerous phases throughout the year. The information was collected and analysed by the leadership team. Student voice was particularly powerful in identifying areas for improvement such as management of workload and fatigue. This resulted in significant adjustments being made to the programme’s protocols throughout the year.

While we never expected remote learning to be a replacement for on-site learning, its impact exceeded our expectations. This reflected the incredible patience and goodwill of our students. It equally reaffirmed the inspirational hard work, professionalism and flexibility of our staff. Our teachers took risks and were forced to work in completely different ways to normal. They often had to make significant adaptations at short notice.

The success of the programme was also a result of excellent Information Systems infrastructure. This has been achieved through years of strategic planning and ongoing monitoring and improvement by our Information Systems team. The complete implementation of Agora prior to the pandemic was a critical step which dramatically enhanced communication and learning management for students, staff and families.

On behalf of the school I congratulate and thank all our staff, particularly our teachers and the Information Systems team. In addition, the oversight and leadership from the Directors of Learning Kath D’Elia and Tim James throughout the year has been invaluable in managing the remote learning experience.

Mark Torriero, Principal