askST: How will teachers monitor students' home-based learning progress?

The Education Ministry has said that home-based learning is not an ideal substitute for classroom learning. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - While most students should have experienced home-based learning (HBL) before, they have never had to do it continuously for four weeks, until now.

From April 8 to May 4, all primary, secondary, pre-university and institute of higher learning students switch to full HBL as Singapore enhances safe distancing measures in the battle against the coronavirus outbreak.

HBL is not an ideal substitute for classroom learning, the Ministry of Education has said.

It is a new experience that will require parents, students and teachers to adjust to new routines and teach and learn in different ways.

"Everyone has been working hard, overcoming teething issues, adapting and finding a new rhythm in these exceptional circumstances," MOE deputy director-general of education (curriculum) Sng Chern Wei told The Straits Times.

Some parents have voiced concerns about how teachers will keep track of students' progress, with less face-to-face time in the classroom.

Other parents who are working from home in this period have also called for the ministry to move forward the June holidays so they have time to adjust to new routines now, before settling in to help their children catch up on schoolwork in June.

Q: How will teachers monitor students' HBL progress?

A: Teachers will keep track of their students' progress through their participation in home-based learning and assignments completed.

Some students may be used to receiving immediate face-to-face answers to their questions or clarifications during lessons from teachers and classmates. But the MOE has said this is "now not readily possible nor the objective of home-based learning".

As an alternative, teachers can use the automated marking features on the Singapore Student Learning Space (SLS) online platform to give students immediate feedback on their learning progress, or give students individual or group feedback through e-mail or teleconferencing.

Teachers can also provide comments and suggestions for improvements based on students' responses through these platforms.

Q: Different schools give different amounts of work. My child seems to have many tasks to complete. Will everything be marked?

A: Most teachers will not leave assignments unmarked during home-based learning. Online assignments can be marked digitally, while hard copy assignments can be scanned and uploaded, which teachers can then retrieve and mark.

Q: What guidelines have schools been given regarding assignments during HBL?

A: In general, students should see less homework and reduced intensity as home-based learning hours are less than the usual school hours. A big part of home-based learning is about self-directed learning and discovery of curiosity, which the MOE wants to try to inculcate.

There are about four, five and six hours of home-based learning a day for primary, secondary and junior college students, respectively. Homework and assignments will be scoped and paced in alignment with these home-based learning hours.

Q: Why not move the June holidays forward to the month of April so parents have time to adjust? Kids can catch up on their work in June.

A: The MOE has considered turning this month into a school holiday and letting students catch up on their work in June.

But the ministry said the situation is fluid and uncertain and, as far as possible, it hopes to keep to the school calendar and minimise disruption to parents, students and teachers.

No one knows how long the Covid-19 outbreak will last and the types of restrictions people will need to live with in the months ahead.

So Singaporeans will have to be more adaptive and flexible, to be more resilient in the fight against Covid-19, it added.

The MOE said that while it will not be easy, "it is not a bad idea to take this opportunity to learn how to juggle our responsibilities, practise home-based learning, encourage children to be more independent in their learning".

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