Kids Schools Schools

Online learning in HK schools

By: Rebecca Simpson

Expat Living checked in with International schools across Hong Kong to see how they are helping students (and parents!) manage home learning. By the second week of closures, most schools had activated online learning and were connecting with pupils of all ages. Many continue to create additional digital formats – including videos, podcasts, recorded presentations and more – to ensure students beyond Hong Kong’s timezone remain engaged. Hong Kong’s teachers are getting seriously creative – it’s impressive!

This is a tough time for parents, teachers and students, but everyone is doing an amazing job and showing resilience. Well done to families and staff at Hong Kong schools – all the effort you are putting in has been noticed.

Canadian International School of Hong Kong

“In the Upper School, teachers are using Zoom and Google Hangouts to offer live, interactive sessions for students in line with the normal schedule. Instructional elements are also recorded and can be accessed by students unable to participate in real-time. Instruction assessment and feedback are all continuing, albeit in different forms.” CDNIS teachers have also started using screencast creation apps to record presentations, lab demonstrations, and more, allowing students to revisit these lessons in their own time.

– Dr. Tim Kaiser, Upper School Principal, Canadian International School of Hong Kong

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Canadian International School Hong Kong teachers have been busy teaching online this term

Hong Kong Academy

”At Hong Kong Academy, we’ve implemented a robust online learning programme which blends live instruction and group work with offline resources and activities. Our goal throughout has been to maintain a sense of normalcy for students and families, so in addition to class instruction we reimagined our sports days, literacy week and performing arts festivals as virtual events, giving the students the opportunity to get away from their screens, pursue their passions and have some fun. HKA students have also launched a couple of Wellbeing initiatives, encouraging us all to get out and hike as well as contribute to an Action for Kindness programme.”

– Stephen Dare, Head of School, Hong Kong Academy

Malvern College Hong Kong

“The thing I’m most proud of in Secondary is the role of the Secondary Tutor who is checking in with the Secondary child on a very regular basis to ensure that sufficient progress is being made across the board. Secondary are utilising a lot of video conferencing, a lot of online classes, screen casts and indeed at this stage they are starting personal projects. Recently, we’ve started online extension classes for those children who need extension.”

– Dr Robin Lister, Headmaster, Malvern College Hong Kong

Listen to our podcast with Dr Robin Lister by clicking the arrow below. This episode explains how flipped learning, student-led wellbeing and resilience are playing starring roles during online learning.

Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong

“We’ve taken a blended approach to teaching while school is closed: this means, we have no single solution to this complex task. We’ve engaged students in a wide range of approaches for each age group – everything from podcasts to indoor PE lessons with balloons! One new platform we’re excited about is Century Tech, which uses Artificial Intelligence to personalise each child’s learning; real-time data tells us what they’ve learnt and how we can continue to push their learning forward at this tricky time.”

– Naima Charlier, Director of Teaching and Learning for Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong

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Students at Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong have been doing PE lessons with balloons!

Yew Chung International School of Hong Kong

“AT YCIS, we are using Zoom to deliver online lessons following the normal school timetable. Teachers have daily face-to-face contact and this is supplemented by Senior Leaders making regular contact with students and parents. We used Zoom during the school closure in October so we were well prepared. An additional technical helpline has been provided for parents and virtual coffee mornings have been implemented.”

– Martin Scott, Education Director and Executive Principal, Yew Chung International School of Hong Kong

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The Year 9 students at YCIS continue PE lessons at home!

Stamford American School Hong Kong

Stamford has combined regularly scheduled live classes with downloadable content. Teachers at this school have been sharing interactive read-alouds, involving students in science experiments using household items, and personalising learning with small group tutorials. Head of School Karrie Dietz said, “Innovation is part of the culture of Stamford American School Hong Kong, and education technology has always played a major role in our teaching and learning. We saw this challenge as an opportunity to engage students in meaningful ways online, and are proud to see our community embracing this new mode of learning in such a short time”

– Karrie Dietz, Head of School, Stamford American School Hong Kong

A Stamford teacher films an online learning session

Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong

“Shrewsbury students have enjoyed a varied digital diet for the duration of suspension. More traditional task setting has been supplemented by live broadcast, collaborative work sessions and individual pastoral calls. We reflect regularly upon provision and have been extremely well guided by parents who have proven patient and supportive throughout.”

– Ben Keeling, Principal of Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong

Small World Christian Kindergarten

“We are using Google Classroom to host each day’s activities. Our teachers conduct live online sessions using Google Hangouts. They create videos each day where they talk, sing songs, and demonstrate activities. Parents are sent activity sheets related to the day’s learning for the children to draw, cut, colour and glue.”

– Tess Baguio, Principal of Small World Christian Kindergarten

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Even the littlest of students from Small World Christian Kindergarten have been learning online

ESF Discovery College

“Technology allows us all sorts of ways to keep in touch and ensure regular contact. For our Primary students, every day starts with a Google Meet where students check in with their teacher, ask questions, and share their learning. Each day then finishes with the same, with students reporting back on what they have achieved and setting up for the next day. For Secondary students, we have generally been able to maintain our regular timetable. Our parents have been key to the way our approach has worked.”

– James Smith, Principal of ESF Discovery College

Discovery College students are staying connected with daily Google Meets for Primary students and the regular school timetable for Secondary

Kellett School Hong Kong

“Our staff have risen to the challenge and enabled learning to continue by making technology their friend. Just like before, work is posted for every lesson on Google Classrooms, but this is now accompanied by a wide range of creative and imaginative approaches. These include live video conferencing, podcasts, screencasts, narrated presentations, flipgrid, and much more. Due to the nature of the closure we have also put the wellbeing of our students and community front and centre.”

– Joe Alsop, Head of Senior School, Kellett School

Teachers at Kellett School have made technology their friend

Mount Kelly School Hong Kong

“Our school is using a variety of different methods from recorded lessons to real-time live lessons, allowing the children to learn from wherever they are. Some of Mount Kelly’s students who might have missed some classes due to the time zone difference can go to google classroom and still access the lessons. We are also hosting live community events including weekly assemblies and live whole class spelling tests.”

– Rain Jones, Head of Schools and Governor of Mount Kelly School Hong Kong

American School Hong Kong

“We are hosting live lessons through Zoom. This allows the students to see each other and the teacher while sharing their thoughts and ideas. We are providing daily live lessons for all core subjects, including our Chinese program. As a one to one school, our students are comfortable using their iPads (kindergarten to grade 3) and MacBooks (grades 4 and up) to expand their knowledge, build skills, create new connections, and share their understandings.”

– Joanne Mallary, School Principal, American School Hong Kong

Dalton School Hong Kong

This school has utilised zoom conferences and Seesaw for individual and small group lessons. Students, parents and teachers have been doing amazing work across subject areas in both English and Putonghua, including Art, Music and Physical Education. One teacher commented, “I love the challenge of inventing a new way of doing things. Trying things out, being creative, and seeing what works and what needs to be changed for next time. It has also been really wonderful to work with such a collaborative, helpful team of colleagues and administrators who are all putting 110% effort into doing this and making this work for our students. The parents have also been so supportive, and the children have been incredibly hard-working and enthusiastic.”

– Ms Kylie, P1C Teacher, Dalton School Hong Kong

Dalton teachers have shared what a privilege it is to be able to watch and listen to one student and devote their entire attention to understanding what the student is saying in their SeeSaw activities, which is nearly impossible in a regular class setting.

Support networks

Expat families have come together to support each other during this online learning phase, both those who have stayed in Hong Kong and those who are overseas temporarily.

Having a whale of a time!

Four expat families gathered together in a house in Sydney’s Whale Beach. Each morning they completed home learning tasks before heading to the beach in the afternoon. It wasn’t without its struggles, one parent commented, “We had 11 children in one house with terrible WiFi. Trying to get them all to buckle down was hard going. Some of us were working remotely too. After a few weeks, our families are working independently.”

It’s been online learning in the morning and Sydney’s pristine beaches in the late afternoon for these expat kids

Community spirit

Many expat families have connected with others in their building. This is a great way for parents to lean on one another and for older students to show their leadership skills. One parent shares, “We’ve been sharing the load across two families – working out a way to manage the school work and our full-time work-from-home commitments as we go. In our building, there’s been a real community spirit, some of the older kids are running PE group classes to get all the kids moving. These kids are adapting so well and we are grateful to our wonderful teachers.”

Sharing the load

Being in a country away from family support is proving very difficult for expat families with two working parents. This is a time when leaning on friends is imperative says one expat mum. “We established a homework club for kids in the same year at primary with a few families in our building. It is really helping because each mum takes it in turns to do two hours each day. We try to get through 2-3 key items on the timetable. It’s challenging to keep the kids’ attention, but it means that each mum only does one day in three, which really helps with the sanity and allows us all to get some of our professional work done.”

Is your school on this list? If you’d like to share an online learning update from your school, please email kate.woodbury@expatliving.hk.

Want to know more about international schools in Hong Kong? Check out our Schools section.

Bumper guide to international schools in Hong Kong

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