The highs and lows about Distance Education

The highs and lows about Distance Education

Whilst we are travelling around Europe, James and Abbie are enrolled in SDEPS – Sydney Distance Education Primary School in Newtown. It is an extremely well organised program, with 2-3 week’s worth of work sent to do at a time and the kids being assigned a teacher, with whom they can correspond via Skype, email or phone at any time.

During the year, it is expected that the kids engage in about 4 hours of work each day of the school week and complete work from each KLA.  There are also extension possibilities and James will be doing NAPLAN.  The kids are also doing the Premiers reading Challenge. Holidays are the same as Sydney Public Schools.  So we are currently in Week 3 of Term 1.

My role, with the help of Dave is to be the supervisor.  This means that I facilitate the learning of the kids, which includes working through the material that has been set, marking sections of work and recording the kids responses using Audacity to send back to the teacher in Sydney.  There are specified sections of work which the kids complete on their own for their teachers to mark.  At the end of each unit of work, there is a feedback section for the supervisor to complete on how well the kids completed each activity and also a section for the kids to complete about how much they enjoyed/didn’t enjoy the unit and what they found easy/ difficult about each activity.

At the end of this week we will be sending back our first parcel of work.  The kids have so far each completed :

  • 3 units of maths, including pages from Maths Tracks textbooks
  • 4 pages of handwriting
  • A picture book study for English
  • A PDHPE unit
  • A science Unit on rain ( Abbie)
  • An Art unit ( Abbie)
  • Spelling lists and grammar activities.
  • 2 x Writing tasks each, including drafts
  • 2 x Journal entries
  • Recorded News
  • 6 x readers

The kids also have access to Maths on Line and Spelling city, which are good activities for them to complete during long drives. They each have an Edmodo account and are encouraged to post regularly to their fellow classmates.

I must say that the process so far has been challenging to say the least.  Not only is there a lot to get through, but also the work seems quite challenging for their stage. I was very surprised to learn that Abbie, having just turned 6 this week had to present a scientific report on cloud types, using the correct scientific terminology! I certainly had to brush up on my cumulonimbus and alto stratus knowledge!

I have no doubt that after a year of such work that they will be well and truly equipped to progress to their next year level with their peers. I am, however, a little concerned that they will be so busily doing school work that they won’t have time to see anything in Europe! We are in the lovely Pyrénées this week and each afternoon after a day’s worth of skiing, the kids have had to complete school work whilst their new buddies are happily playing. Fortunately, we are able to be flexible though.

The most positive thing that I can say about completing distance education is that it has been wonderful to experience first- hand just how our kids learn, what they enjoy doing the most and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. It has been a good exercise for me practising patience … which I have to admit after having spelt the same word out loud to one of them at least 5 times and they are still asking, I need to work at!

I hope that this gives you a bit of insight into what distance education is really like. I can only be very complimentary towards the fabulous teachers, resources and opportunities that this presents…. Just remember to factor a good amount of time towards if you are planning such a trip! For now I am off to the bureau de poste and am looking forward to a weekend without school work!! J

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