Virtual Campus Update
Over the last few years, Snowy Mountains Grammar School has taken a digital-first approach to its systems and processes. We have worked to innovatively embed technology across our campus, curriculum and programs.
Our forward-thinking approach to technology has perhaps been one of the key assets we had in our toolkit in response to the impact COVID-19 has had on Australian schools. With a robust LMS, a fully operational BYOD program, technology-rich curriculum delivery and highly skilled staff, the transition to our Virtual Campus was seamless.
Listening to our Most Important Stakeholders – our Students
After making a successful, rapid transition to our Virtual Campus at the end of last term, we have taken the opportunity to reflect on and seek feedback from our school community, as we have always done at SMGS, to continue to provide an exceptional and relevant educational experience for all our students.
After a highly successful few weeks, the term break has now given us the opportunity to reflect on what our school community has been able to achieve and further refine our Virtual Campus in Term 2, with additional programs, processes and opportunities being added to our suite of offerings to further enrich learning.
In the Junior School, Ms Shvetsoff and her team have worked together to enhance the experience for our youngest learners with the expectation that our delivery will continue to inspire, challenge and connect all our Junior School students. Core classroom subjects and specialist classes will also be joined by enrichment and learning support, as they always have.
As you would expect, for our older students, who are digital natives, this new world of engaging in our Virtual Campus has come naturally. Feedback from the Senior School students affirmed that we had an overall successful transition. 96% of students reported that the transition to the Virtual Campus allowed them to successfully continue their learning. 98% felt that clear expectations were set by their teachers in the Virtual Campus, and the responses related to resources, support and workload were all encouragingly positive.
Technology Management in Term 2
Daily virtual lessons will continue to be the cornerstone of our model. However, we understand that on-screen time, and in particular while engaged with the teacher in explicit instruction, must be carefully regulated and dispensed. Teachers, in conjunction with a carefully constructed virtual timetable, will create opportunities for students to engage with set course work so as to reduce the need to maintain the level of high–intensity, continuous screen interactivity.
Wellbeing and Activity Programs in Term 2
A rewarding school experience is much more than engaging with curriculum content alone. It is feeling a connection to something larger than yourself and different from your family. It is a community experience where individualism is celebrated. Organic connections with friends and peers have been considered and we have created opportunities to reinstate these experiences, such as stage meetings and lunch time meetings with friends. To complement this, we have also created a suite of additional opt-in experiences that promote wellness and connectivity.
Our Director of Activities and Director of Wellbeing have also formulated exciting programs for Term 2 which will be released shortly.
Highly Skilled Teachers and State–of–the–Art Technology – the Perfect Recipe for Engaged and Successful Learning in our Virtual Campus
Each of the five key considerations that underpin our Virtual Campus, as outlined in our graphic, addresses all aspects of what we believe constitutes a successful and rewarding virtual school experience. For Term 2, we will continue with a blended online learning framework that optimises the student experience in our approach to education.
I cannot conclude this article without acknowledging the dedication and professionalism that our staff have brought to these extraordinary times. The hard work and commitment by our staff to offer a quality education continues to make SMGS a school of choice, not just in the region, but nationally. We are already able to realise the potential of learning from this experience and know that innovations we are making now will transcend COVID-19. We remain positive and understand that it is progressive thinking that will carry us through this experience as a community.
I hope you have had the opportunity to find some time to relax and we look forward to reconnecting with our students on Monday 27 April as we commence Term 2 in our Virtual Campus.