THE coronavirus pandemic has led to a transformation in the way students are taught with classrooms becoming virtual for many.

With students unlikely to get back into physical classrooms until March - online learning at home will remain the new normal.

The Journal has been speaking to teacher Rich Eno from Salisbury Sixth Form College (S6C) about this transition to online learning and how lessons work.

Moving lessons online

During the first March lockdown the college moved to online learning for students - running lessons live in normal timetabled slots using Google Meets and Google Classroom technologies, which were already part of the fabric at S6C.

Mr Eno, who is a faculty lead at S6C, says that before the first lockdown the college was already "quite tech savvy" and that staff had done a lot of training, including achieving Google education certificates.

This has helped the college easily transition back into virtual learning when the third lockdown was announced in January.

How online learning works at S6C

"Our lessons are not just a teacher talking to a screen," said Mr Eno.

"Lessons are interactive so we are still able to have Q&A and discussion.

"We use things like the breakout room on Google Meet - this is where if I have got a class of 15 or 20 I can actually put students into mini breakout rooms where they have all got their webcams on and can discuss their work and work in teams in just the same way that they would be doing group work.

"We do online polls and quizzes and use a lot of YouTube.

"It is really interactive and I think that has been one of our strengths."

Salisbury Sixth Form College Teacher Richard Eno adapts to the new online teaching environment

Salisbury Sixth Form College Teacher Richard Eno adapts to the new online teaching environment

This technology has meant students that are self-isolating or ill can still access lessons online at home.

"With our virtual learning environment which is called Google Classroom it enables us to create a virtual classroom with all the usual resources in it.

"But of course there are some issues with practical subjects like art and photography so we've put together a small resources pack that students are able to pick up from college by appointment so they have got those resources at home," said Mr Eno.

The use of Google Docs means students can be working on an assignment and can share it with teachers live during lessons and receive comments on the work in real time.

Mr Eno says the college has received praise from parents for the interactiveness and engagement of their virtual teaching.

Adapting to virtual learning

"If there is one thing teachers are great at it is resilience and being able to adapt because those two things are the bread and butter of a teacher's life.

"Because every year there are changes we have to adapt to we have always got to think on our feet.

"The one thing I have learnt from the first lockdown is there will never be another snow day.

"We can have an Alaskan style blizzard and guess what? Classes can continue.

"It just means we can continue with our learning," he said.

"It has encouraged teachers to think more innovatively about how they are making lessons engaging and interactive.

"It's made us reflect on our practice which being a teacher is really important that we are reflective about we do.

"It's made us think 'well there are other ways to do it'.

"We wouldn't want to be accused of only doing chalk and talk.

"That kind of method is for yesterday.

"Our lessons are interactive and engaging and we are adapting to the changing landscape of technology all the time."

Support for students

Not all students have adapted seamlessly to working from home.

Mr Eno added: "Lots of students have embraced it really well but we do have some students who do struggle which is only understandable being lockdown and not having access.

"We are doing our best to stay in contact with those students and we are promoting them to also reach out to their friends and family as well."

To support students S6C have provided laptops and internet access through data bundles to students without those facilities at home.

However, Mr Eno says "there is nothing quite like actually being in the classroom".

He added: "Discussion and group work does work better when you are in the room and you have got access to everything so quickly.

"But this pandemic has forced our hand into being innovative and we are really proud of the staff that we have at S6C that they have embraced and adapted to the situation really well."

The college still remains open for a small number of students who have been identified as vulnerable who can come into the college's study centre.

Online tutorials are held weekly online where students are able to speak virtually with their tutors who can discuss progress and also check on students' mental health and wellbeing.

Learning in the future

Between September and December S6C adopted a "blended" learning model where any students that were self-isolating or sick were able to dial into the lesson remotely and join the lesson through a webcam so teachers were teaching on site but also had students online at home.

This, Mr Eno said, is something that the college will look into continuing in the future.

He said: "The technology is so good it enables us to do it and it is only going to get better I think."

For more information about S6C go to