15 Sep 2021

Remote learning across Auckland schools: 'It's pretty normal'

7:15 pm on 15 September 2021

At 8.40am today Randwick Park School teacher Luanda Milo was live on Facebook leading the school's bilingual class through a morning karakia.

Boy is studying in front of the laptop.

Photo: 123RF

It is how the class starts every school day and is one example of how Auckland teachers are using the internet to connect with the region's 250,000 school-aged children.

Among those watching were Shavarn and Waimarie Te Runa, who expected to do some household chores before turning to their school work.

Waimarie said she would normally have one online meeting or class per day.

"They're all at 11, so at 11 o'clock I go on my phone, I press the link and then I see everyone. It's pretty normal. I still get to see my teacher, see all my classmates," she said.

At 10am, Rangitoto College teacher Olivia Newman welcomed students into her virtual Year 9 English class much as she might greet them in a real classroom.

There were the usual morning greetings, a little banter among those who had arrived early about how English is a better subject than maths, and some instructions about what would be covered in the lesson.

The students kept their cameras off and, for the most part, their microphones too, asking questions via written messages, though verbal responses were required at times as the class discussed how the book The Hobbit reflects the narrative structure known as "the hero's journey".

For student Daniella Kieser it was her second online class of the day with one more to go.

"Usually I have two to three per day," she said.

"At the start everyone was a lot more quiet than they are now and people are getting more comfortable with it."

At 11am, James Cook High School teacher Aman Pillay was connected online with two Year 12 geography students, showing them a map of Auckland and talking them through what they needed to know.

One of the teenagers, Georgia Priestley, said she didn't have a lot of online classes and most of her work was sent to her by email.

She said she was finding remote learning "pretty good" though she did have to work to keep motivated.

"I find it easier to just focus on just one assessment and it's much easier than having to switch subjects five times a day and kind of being stressed out," she said.

At midday, Albany Primary School teacher, Desirae Lagerwall's online class for Year 5 and 6 was a chessboard of children's faces on the screen - most had their cameras on.

She used the session to teach the children about prefixes, asking them questions and sharing a brief video.

Year 6 student Emma Lim said she went online once a day with her class and most of her school work came in the form of a digital slide show.

"There's different days and all of the work that needs to be done," she said.

Emma said she could see advantages in remote learning.

"You can take your time to finish work and you don't really have to travel around a lot and you don't have to use different books, we can just use one computer," she said.

"But the bad thing about it is it takes a while for your friends to answer the emails that you give them and I kind of miss the feeling of being able to communicate with others face-to-face."

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