Singleton students share their experiences so far with online learning

ONLINE LEARNING: Year 11 student Louis Moore has already been late to 'school' twice since he transitioned to online learning despite the lessons taking place less than two metres from his bed.
ONLINE LEARNING: Year 11 student Louis Moore has already been late to 'school' twice since he transitioned to online learning despite the lessons taking place less than two metres from his bed.

Major changes to schooling in Australia since the COVID-19 outbreak have resulted in online learning as the new method of education.

It follows NSW Education Standards Authority's [NESA] announcement last week that it would not cancel the 2020 exams or HSC assessments despite the COVID-19 outbreak causing disruptions to education across the world.

The NSW government has been preparing schools for a shift to online learning since early in March, with the state's education minister, Sarah Mitchell, saying teachers had been directed to prepare online lessons for their classes.

Senior students across the Singleton Shire shared their experiences so far after the Premier Gladys Berejiklian encouraged parents to keep children at home if possible to minimise further spread of the virus.

"Online learning just isn't the same as physically being at school," Australian Christian College Year 12 student Meg Deaves explained.

"It's difficult to find the motivation you need to get work done without my teachers and class mates."

Year twelve student Meg Deaves from the Australian Christian College in her make do 'online learning zone' aka her desk.

Year twelve student Meg Deaves from the Australian Christian College in her make do 'online learning zone' aka her desk.

Singleton High School Year 12 student Anika Smith says there are some perks of learning at home but it has thrown off her usual routine.

"I get to sleep and wake up when I feel instead of having to rush like I usually would on a school morning," she said.

"Each day is different, I can do school work whenever I feel like, and I can eat whenever I feel like, I can spend time doing stuff other than school work since I'm home.

"My days are definitely not as structured or productive as they were before."

Year 12 student Anika Smith from Singleton High School said she is struggling to find motivation without teachers or peers in lessons.

Year 12 student Anika Smith from Singleton High School said she is struggling to find motivation without teachers or peers in lessons.

However, Anika admits that despite not being surrounded by her peers, there are many more distractions at home than at school.

"I find I am staying up later and sleeping in more often and I find I am using my phone much more than normal which takes me away from feeling motivated to do school work."

If it isn't already stressful enough being a senior student in these COVID19 times, imagine being a senior student with a chronic illness.

That's what life is like lately for Year 11 student Charlotte Stephenson from Hunter Valley Grammar School.

"I have a range of chronic illnesses and am in the category of the vulnerable, so the worry of becoming sick or my loved ones becoming sick is always increasing" Charlotte revealed.

"I have found focusing on school work difficult given the current climate and have already faced a handful of challenges within the first week of home learning.

"Given all of the daily stimulus that we are shown in the media, focusing on classwork can be stressful and demanding."

Charlotte also agrees that the change to online learning has impacted her learning standards.

"It's strange not having face to face contact and general conversation of a classroom," she continued.

"Like us all, I've never been in a situation like this and it's hard to stay on top of work at times when you are your only motivator."

Saint Catherine's College school leader Sophie Macfarlane said the virus has put a halt on many 'last evers' for the cohorts of 2020.

"It's pretty devastating knowing that many of the last school events we would be attending and celebrating won't happen," the Year 12 student admitted.

"We were lucky to have our swimming carnival when we did."

For Year 12 student Jeremy Dunn of Knox Grammar School who resides in Singleton, with the closing of his boarding house nearly three weeks ago he has become familiar with the new online approach.

"It definitely doesn't feel like normal school at all," he explained.

"All of my classes are now over an app called zoom which is basically FaceTime with my whole class and teachers.

"Working through my laptop and not being face to face with my mates all the time has definitely made me realise how important being around your friends is for the enjoyment of school," he added.

Louis Moore of Knox Grammar who is in the same situation as Jeremy said he has already been late to 'school' twice.

"It's a bit weird having lessons in the same room you sleep in," Louis concluded.

"This morning I was twenty minutes late to class despite it being less than two meters away from me."

State schools will continue to remain open until the Easter school holidays with 'business as usual' as Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed it be, despite student numbers decreasing by the day.