High 5s From Cub Reporter, Mishal, After Wk 1!

Our Cub Reporter, Mishal from The Winchester School, Jebel Ali, shares her thoughts on week one of online learning in the UAE. She starts with giving all her fellow students, and that's a few hundred thousand of you, a high five, and a pat on the back!
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

High five to all the students all over the UAE! You're now bonafide distant learners! Give yourselves a pat on the back!

Let’s also give our teachers a big round of applause and salute for their efforts and say a special thank you to all parents for the unconditional support and the TLC.

I have been super excited about the whole distance learning concept right from the time when it was announced three weeks back. With the program in full swing now, I can confidently give my opinion about it based on my experience. Here's my view: I'm loving it! Totally, utterly, absolutely loving it!

Yes, it's true that I do miss my teachers and friends, as well as all the real face-to-face interaction, but one has to always look for the silver lining in each and every situation life presents one with. I did just that and I realised that there are so many advantages to distance learning. To name a few:

Learning at your own Pace

Distance learning affords you the freedom to learn at your own pace. You can take your time to research, delve deeper into a topic and take charge of your own learning. I think this will bring out the real differentiation as each student's individuality and personal strengths will become more apparent. At the same time, they will get more time to work on areas where they could improve. Each student will have a greater sense of ownership of his or her learning.

A Sense of Responsibility

Distance learning requires one to be more disciplined, to keep an account of the online classroom timetable, set time aside for finishing tasks, collaborating with teachers and at the same time strike a balance between hobbies, family time etc. I'm certain, that this experience will make us more responsible as learners and as individuals. We have more control of our learning. That is, undoubtedly, empowering. Greater the power and control, greater the sense of responsibility.

Mastering Digital Skills

There are so many digital and online skills which all the students have been able to master in a short span of time. The most obvious one is of course collaborating in digital classrooms. Different schools are using different applications like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and so on. We've never used these platforms before, and it is surely an evolving experience which is preparing us for our future jobs where a lot of interaction and collaboration will be online.

Improvisation and Innovation 

If one thinks of it, the entire chain of events which we have witnessed, the uncertainty and the consequent school closures, the distance learning programme being rolled out - it feels surreal. It's been a surprisingly quick transition from the conventional classroom to the online one.

What shines through here is the resilient and optimistic spirit we have as a community.  Our willingness and enthusiasm to learn and the ability to innovate and improvise. The situation on hand rendered it impossible to learn like we've been doing forever. So everyone came together leaders, educators, students and parents and made a faraway possibility a reality! Steve Jobs once said,

"Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat"

Once this phase is over, the way the education sector responded to the crisis ensuring the continuity of learning, would be an exemplar of the innovative spirit entwined in the DNA of this progressive nation.

Nothing lasts forever, and neither will the situation that we are facing. An army of dedicated individuals are working together to help us come out of it and very soon, it will all be back to normal.

In the meanwhile, let's make the most of what we have on our hands! And I can say it's nothing short of a gift - digital classrooms at our fingertips!

Mishal, Year 8, The Winchester School, Jebel Ali

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