May 22, 2020
Dear Machabeng College Families and Staff;
During the COVID19 lockdown and now the continuation of social distancing, Machabeng College has adopted, by force, parts of the Blended Learning approach in education. Blended Learning facilitates online schooling with a greater emphasis of customization and personalization offering students a level of freedom to engage in ways that meet their individual learning needs. Daily, teachers have had to be more and more flexible in how information is offered in their lessons in meeting the various needs of students by adjusting assignments and due dates. The Machabeng College staff will continue to deliver an educational platform that will improve over time. We will bring forward school news and our direction as quickly as we can and based on facts.
I believe in such an unexpected situation that effected the entire world, Machabeng College Board of Governors and the Staff acted efficiently and quickly to herald the transition of the schooling process to online learning as well as the safety and preparation of our community. As we continue forward, “Pele ea Pele,” the community is becoming more accustomed to the process of being online. I want to celebrate everyone in the Machabeng community who have embraced the challenges, helped one another, and acted as explorers in this new realm of learning. It certainly has not been easy, and I applaud the efforts made by everyone to overcome the obstacles that have befallen us during this unusual time in our history as a community and as members of a larger global society.
At this time, I believe it is important to look inward and reflect upon the opportunity the situation has afforded us as a learning community. Yes, it has been a struggle for everyone; however, the situation has forced us into a new thought process, and we are succeeding through adaptation. There is an unprecedented opportunity to explore the possibilities that online learning provides and how it can continue to benefit our students in preparation for university level success.
We have barely scraped the surface of the Blended Learning philosophy. Blended Learning under normal circumstances is essentially a mixture of instructional face-to-face classroom learning, digital or online learning and structured independent study. Blended Learning enables students to continue working online from home and in school. In real time, students can engage with their teachers and their peers, ask questions, make suggestions, raise issues, challenge opinions, and offer insights any time day or night. The greatest part of such a program allows for the teacher or the students to call impromptu meetings when necessary to be in the moment to bring the group together or to clarify information.
It’s learning without walls and without the typical pressures that often hold children back. Blended Learning allows a fair and impartial platform for children, as unique learners, to express themselves through blogging, research, video instruction, social media and teacher guidance. In fact, “Blended Learning is exciting and unpredictable in that it transforms the ‘passive’ teacher-centered classroom into an ‘active’ student-centered classroom,” says Catlin Tucker, internationally-renowned Blended Learning expert.
More often than not, lessons started at school, are continued online at home and woven back into the classroom the following day. Students and learning are not limited to physical space or time. Students, who may have been previously timid or shy in front of their peers, are beginning to articulate and express themselves in writing on multiple platforms. Through a structured process guided by the teacher, referred to as facilitation protocols, students get validation from others and their confidence grows. As a parent, a teacher, a school leader, and a former consultant in the opening of an online school in Florida, it is wonderful to see children blossom as independent learners through online mechanisms. Blended Learning transforms student learning through personalization and increased autonomy, which allows students more agency over their educational experience. This approach plus the use of technology in general offers exciting opportunities for everyone. (ASIA 2020)
There are many Blended Learning models and methodologies that schools around the world are experimenting with. Establishing which one or which combination works best for Machabeng College will depend on the unique realities of the school as a business. At this time, the Machabeng College staff want to explore a blended model where we will create the patterns and standardize the processes that work for our community. However, are capabilities are limited financially and we need to talk about the realities of the current situation. The following are just a few of the questions to be reviewed and reflected upon by everyone: “Where are we now?…What do we want for our children? ….What skills do our children need in a pre-university education?….As a community, what outcomes are important for our graduates?…Does the budget support the desired initiatives?… What are the technological capabilities of the school currently?…. Does the College have the necessary facilities and the tools to bring the school into 21st Century practices?…How do we proceed?”
I hope that I am not being too presumptuous in my thinking, however, now that we have entered into the 21st Century realm of teaching and learning, how can we go back to traditional classrooms? We have much to discuss. I am available daily to meet with parents to talk about possibilities, concerns, and moving forward as a school.
I hope you will join me and the staff in continuing the process as we redefine Machabeng College for the 21st Century. As per COVID19 standards for practice allows, we will be convening meetings in the coming months to redefine the College’s Vision and Mission. These meetings will be based on the data teachers collected during Care Calls.
I look forward to meeting and conversing with parents and the families of our intelligent students in partnership as we move forward.
All my best to you and your families,
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