At the International School of Leuven, a new kind of 'school' has emerged through their Distance Learning Programme, using virtual Google classrooms.
As countries around the world impose measures to limit the spread of Covid 19, schools are being challenged to find new ways of maintaining learning and community connections for their students, while parents are being asked to balance work life with the demands of homeschooling.
Carol Bancroft, Head of the International School of Leuven, explains: "Here at the International School of Leuven, we are proud to say that thanks to our creative teachers, our dedicated parents and our open minded children, a new kind of “school” has emerged through our Distance Learning Programme. Although our classroom doors are temporarily closed, our virtual Google classroom doors stand wide open, ready to offer a new learning experience for the students and families at ISL."
"As an existing Google for Education school our older children were familiar with Google Classroom", Bancroft continues. "They had already enjoyed the benefits of this learning platform for collaborative projects, instant teacher feedback and for a more eco friendly, paperless classroom. Faced with the current situation, our team has developed motivational ways of using this tool to engage and connect children across the whole school. This has allowed even our youngest children to participate in video conferences with parents and teachers, share work through photos and videos, engage in live music and sports sessions and even take part in Zumba classes. From Preschool to Grade 6, teachers have been present to support children emotionally and academically, providing daily routines and a sense of the familiar in these unfamiliar times."
Teachers have also embraced the new opportunities presented through home learning. Creative projects have capitalised on real life, relevant learning, no longer limited by the classroom walls. Chemistry has been integrated into home baking, measuring capacity into bath time play, household chores into team building skills and literacy skills through community letter writing projects for the elderly.
Bancroft: "While the world waits for life to get back to “normal”, here at ISL, along with educators worldwide, we have glimpsed an alternative way of learning that will change “normal” schooling forever. A change that demands us to question what and how we want our children to learn and one that will move us forward, embracing digital literacy, student organised learning and celebrating the power of home school collaboration. When the worst of this is over and we do finally return to our traditional classrooms, we will take pride in how we faced this challenge and will return to learning with reimagined insight, new vision and a greater sense of togetherness."