Comment COVID19 Online learning Remote learning

Dear Santa, Did You Get My Tweet?

Remote learning, online-learning platforms and home-schooling. It has certainly been a year in which these emerging technologies and pedagogies have grown and developed, especially in response to C19 restrictions and lockdowns. But despite all the progress in these spaces, surely there is still nothing that beats the physical school environment and face-to-face human interaction between teachers and learners. Perhaps a definitive return to all of that is what we should be asking for from Santa this year…

I recently had the good fortune to accompany one of my school choirs to a Carol Service in the local church. The children, as always, were excellent and represented their school superbly well.

During the service, the vicar stood to deliver his sermon, and chose to recite a poem by Kenn Nesbitt about technology as a means of communication with Father Christmas.

The gist of the poem seemed to be saying that whilst we live in a world of online platforms and internet solutions, perhaps when it comes to something as special and important as Christmas lists, there’s nothing quite like the good old-fashioned letter. It’s stood the test of time; it’s trusted; and, yes, whilst tweeting Santa may compliment the methodology it surely cannot replace it to the same effect.

As I write this blog at the end of a calendar year that has seen two national lockdowns and schools and teachers moving their trade into the emerging world of remote learning, the poem resonates with me on a very personal level. Have schools responded well to the sudden need for virtual lessons and remote learning? Yes. Have teachers done an incredible job at making this shift with speed, expertise and professionalism? Unequivocally yes. Should everyone from teachers to support staff to parents and pupils be congratulated for the way they responded to home-learning by showing true innovation, flexibility and resilience? Of course. Unquestionably.

But, when all is said and done, does anything really come close to the normal school experience?

What we need now is some good fortune and a little bit of Christmas magic to help us combat the threat posed by Omicron so that we can keep schools open, keep the school experience as normal as possible, and keep everyone safe. Right now that sounds a tall order, but we know we have tried and tested remote learning contingency plans to fall back on; contingency plans which get better each time we have to get them back off the shelf. We just want those contingencies to remain contingencies. Yup, I know what I’ll be asking Santa for this year… what about you?

Dear Santa, did you get my tweet
of presents I would think are sweet?
And what about my Facebook post
of toys and stuff I want the most?

Dear Santa, did you read my blog?
That’s where I keep a running log
of all the times that I’ve been good
and doing things I know I should.

I hope you saw my Instagram,
my email wasn’t flagged as spam,
you’ve seen my YouTube channel too
and all my texts have made it through.

Wait, does the North Pole even get
computers and the Internet?
I hope it does. I mean, it better,
or I might have to write a letter.

— Kenn Nesbitt

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