We hope this message finds you well. We wish to take a few minutes of your time to update you on the state of affairs in our partnership.
End of Circuit Breaker
As you are aware, the circuit breaker (CB) will be lifted in phases. MOE has informed us that tuition centres will not be allowed to open in phase 1. We are not told when we can resume our centre-based classes. At this moment, we will have to continue with our virtual classes.
It could be weeks or even months before we can go back to centre-based classes. Even when it happens, we cannot be completely sure about what changes will there be. We suspect that social-distancing rules will limit our class size significantly. This will in turn leads to disruptions to class schedule since we cannot fit everyone into the same class. We can’t predict the details but we have to be prepared for changes.
This covid-19 situation normalizes online learning. So much so that we actually have students and parents who want to continue with virtual classes even after CB is completely lifted. While we are encouraged by the confidence in our virtual classes, we need to have more clarity so that we can plan ahead. As such, we would like to request for 5 minutes of your time for a quick survey.
Upgrade to Microsoft Teams and Class Notebook
In the beginning, we used Zoom as our choice for video-conferencing and WhatsApp to monitor our students’ work. While Zoom and WhatsApp work, we realized that it was not a great idea to ask students to use WhatsApp during class. Furthermore, there was the problem of keeping track of their work. All the classwork and homework they submitted were all photos and it was difficult to keep track of their progress.
We then invested much resources to change our platform to Microsoft Teams and Class Notebook. Microsoft Teams is more than a video-conferencing platform. It is a hub where teachers and students can interact, post messages, announcements, material and assignment. It is like a private Facebook group except it is more suitable for education. It is also highly secured and stable.
Class Notebook is a special version of the OneNote app designed for education. Students can submit their Classwork and Homework according to the folders. Everything is organized and archived, no more messy photos everywhere. Included in Class Notebook is the Whiteboard. Each student will have a copy of the Whiteboard for their reference. No more worrying about copying content from the screen. In fact, the Whiteboard can also serve as a diary of the content covered over the many weeks. Parents can also have access to the student’s Notebook to keep track of the student’s progress and work submission records.
All in all, Teams and Class Notebook combined is a more suitable platform for conducting virtual classes. As far as we know, only RI and ASRJC are using Teams. We believe our centre is the first and probably the only tuition centre using this combination of Teams and Class Notebook. As a perk, students will also have the whole suite of Microsoft Office software. They can go to office.com, log in using their Number Skill account and they will have access to software like MS Words, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. We will absorb all the cost during this period as we study the feasibility of using this platform in the long term.
Mid-Year Exam (or the lack of it)
You might be informed that we recently conducted our in-house MYE for our graduating cohorts. This is to allow them to have a clearer sense of their standard at this moment in time since the schools are not doing it. Some students need to have a scare to jolt them up to the studying mode.
The feedback has been encouraging and we intend to extend this to our non-graduating students in the coming weeks. Even if we do not see each other face to face, we can conduct an examination if we put effort into it.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your trust and patience with us as we navigate this unfamiliar terrain to help our students to the best of our ability. In the same vein, we wish you and your loved ones good health and good spirit!
Thanks and best regards,
Gary Ang + Eileen Tan
Number Skill Learning Centre