Schools Go Online Amid COVID-19

Students in China would not have guessed that their 2020 winter holiday would be prolonged because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Education Authorities implemented online learning until normal school resumes. Classes officially began on March 2 with online courses announced by the Guangdong Education Bureau. However, many students in Dongguan started in February.

Frances Lai, a mother of two, expressed some concerns. “For working parents, it is extremely difficult because kids are kids. They will not focus on studying without supervision, especially when an iPad is in their command. You may need to invest in a printer so they can do their homework on the printed worksheets,” she said.

Sophia Wang, a grade nine student from Winnerway, said it is much easier learning from home than at school. She can arrange her time more efficiently. If she has difficulties understanding the teacher, she can watch the video again.

“I really look forward to going back to school. I wish I had a 3D printer at home so that my robot design class is not as boring,” Alex Liu, a freshman who studies computer science at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, said. He added that he spends more than 10 hours in front of his computer, having classes and doing homework.

Schools and training centers adopted different platforms for classes. Many elementary and middle schools use Dingding, QQ or Feishu, depending on schools and teachers.

QQ stands out for tailor-made functions for online classes, including attendance checking, homework tracking and setting up study groups. However, it is chaotic having classes live online, and worsens when the internet connection is not stable. Dongguan Middle School and Winnerway Foreign Language School offer recorded classes and use WeChat as a tool to communicate and keep track of students’ progress.

International schools in Dongguan prefer platforms, such as Seesaw or Microsoft Teams, which have better built-in annotation tools to demonstrate thinking processes, access to shared materials in real time, and a variety of intuitive tools like draw, record, collage are embedded. Online classes usually last from 30-60 minutes, with six classes per day.