Coronavirus outbreak: With all schools closed, what do students think of e-learning?

Pupils in Hong Kong and Shenzhen have mixed reactions as they try to stay on top of their studies during suspension of classes

Veronica LinWong Tsui-kai |

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Students turn to e-learning in the midst of school closures during the coronavirus outbreak.

With all classes suspended until at least March 2, secondary students in Hong Kong and Shenzhen have turned to e-learning.

Young Post spoke to students in local and international schools in both cities to find out how they are progressing.

Most secondary schools in Hong Kong have been using live web conference applications such as Zoom, as well as sites such as PowerSchool and Schoology to upload and download material.

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For many, it’s almost “business as usual”. “Teachers can schedule a Zoom call with their students at the start and end of each lesson to check their progress,” says Bobbi Lee, 13, a Year Nine student at South Island School.

“Brief messages are also often sent to students before class starts as a way of explaining tasks, and teachers are always online during lessons to answer questions. It’s like school, just without [face-to-face] social interaction.”

However, fellow South Island student, Zachary Perez Jones, 15, says he doesn’t think e-learning is “sustainable” or as “stimulating”, especially with exams coming up.

“I have been quite anxious about exams as we are missing a full month of lessons before my IGCSE and GCSE exams in May,” he says. “I am finding it hard to revise as it is already hard enough to do my homework at home, let alone study on my own.”

Mimi Wong, 16, a student at HKMA K. S. Lo College, says while e-learning is useful when it comes to completing assignments for subjects such as maths, she finds doing reading comprehension exercises for her Chinese class quite troublesome. “I have to download different files to complete a single assignment,” she says.

Across the border, some students in Shenzhen have also signed up for online extracurricular and tutorial lessons.

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Andy Ma, 13, a Year Nine student at Futian Foreign Languages School, says he’s been taking e-lessons in maths and physics from a private tutor via QQ live, a mainland messaging app. He says it is just as efficient as going to school, and keeps him occupied at home.

Cyrus Chu Kin-cheung, 17, from St Louis School, in Hong Kong, will be sitting exams soon, so regular classes have ended. “My e-learning has been coming from my tutorial centres mostly,” he says. “As the coronavirus worsens, tutorial centres have switched to video classes, and I have to say I’m grateful for the change, as it allows increased flexibility in my study schedule at home. Without the need to go to class at a specific date, I could sleep when I want to, and study when I want to.”

German Swiss International School student Huang Yuhan, 13, found the technical details to be a problem. “We’ve been using mainly Google Hangouts, sometimes Zoom. It’s a bit problematic as the system can be laggy, and when you want to speak, it takes a while to turn on your microphone, which is a hassle for me,” he says. “I miss interacting with others in the classroom.”