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Using Microsoft Teams, a document camera and wireless headset, Adam Drake teaches his daily summer electronics course to about 16 Surrey students who are live online with him. Below right are a series of images created by student Barinder Bahia, who is taking a separate animation course this summer, taught online by Josh Erickson.
More than 30 Surrey secondary students are spending July learning specialized skills in two new live virtual summer programs – and earning credits toward graduation while they're at it.
With ongoing restrictions and limitations related to COVID-19, "we decided to focus on just a few courses," says principal Doug Litke, who's overseeing the programs.
Two of those courses are animation and electronics, which are being taught synchronously (live, online) for four hours every weekday morning all month.
"Students check in every morning – they're live with the teacher and watch what they're doing," says Litke. "They're able to have conversations and can chat or ask questions directly."
Electronics, offered in partnership with SFU, provides students both theoretical and hands-on experience with analog and digital electronics, binary and programmable interface controllers, and more.
In late June, teacher Adam Drake prepared and delivered toolboxes for students, packed with all the necessary components and equipment. Now into the third week, he's impressed with his students' dedication and how quickly they're learning.
"These kids are doing really, really well," he says, adding they all diligently log on for class each morning at 8:15 a.m. "This sort of elective summer school is brilliant because these students want to be here."
Drake has a document camera so students can see demonstrations, and a hands-free microphone so he can explain what he's doing in real time. Students are able to post photos, explain problems they may be having and are encouraged to help one another by sharing ideas and solutions.
"The purpose of this is to whet appetites and get kids thinking 'wow, this is so cool'," says Drake, who teaches at Kwantlen Park Secondary during the school year. "I love teaching and love seeing kids face to face in classrooms and in the hallways – but this isn't half bad."
Teacher Josh Erickson's Animation course is project-based and introduces students to basic animation and game development. His 16 students are developing their own original characters and learning programming logic to have their character complete actions, interact with other objects and appear alive.
Erickson says teaching animation online is working great, as he can use screen sharing for demonstrations, as well as to trouble shoot and monitor student progress.
"I would not hesitate to do it again," he says. "The students are responding well to it, too, and have produced some wonderful animations."
Grade 10-12 students were referred to the summer programs by career facilitators at various Surrey secondary schools, and earn four credits upon completion. The courses, Litke says, also help students stay connected during summer break.
"I'm part of the team, so I can pop into classes and see how it's going," says Litke. "It looks like they're having a great time!"
Above are still images by students Dawson Ho (left) and Param Shergill (right), who are are taking Surrey Schools' summer animation course.