Independent Education Spring 2020

Independent Education • Spring 20 104 The ‘joy of learning’ online – a journey of discovery at Oakhill: Part 1 BY JAMES CROSS AND WAYNE PURCHASE In March 2020, when the South African government imposed a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of COVID- 19 and closed schools across the country, Oakhill School in Knysna, in the Western Cape, was able to adapt to online instruction for our 460 pupils because of a culture of innovation and technology that had already been set in place. T he advent of the COVID-19 virus and the consequent need to move to online or distance learning was a significant challenge for Oakhill, but also proved to be a great opportunity to think differently about teaching and learning. Our journey was not unique. The race to online learning during this emergency period catapulted us and many other schools right out of our comfort zones, even with our key investment in technology. Our journey into the online arena was seamless for the most part, but not without its challenges. Fortunately for us, we were coming to the end of a term when the reality of COVID-19 hit. We were able to implement an intense three-day crash course and brush up on the basics of technology integration with all our teachers – technology which had been explored by many but not yet adopted by all. We are also acutely aware that Oakhill School was well positioned to meet the challenges of online teaching and learning because we came from a position of privilege, with deeply committed staff, which helped us to embrace and transition to this new strategy. We are mindful that our bursary children experienced the change differently, with their own unique challenges, and we are grateful that we were able to address these by ensuring that each child was given one-on-one focus, attention and care.