The Overseas School of Colombo’s Distance Learning Plan (DLP) has been a bedrock of stability in the learning community since March 12, 2020 when the Government of Sri Lanka closed all schools. The very next day we changed our motto from “Unity in Diversity” to “Unity in Adversity” and came together as a community to [...]


Distance Learning Plans in Uncertain Times


The Overseas School of Colombo’s Distance Learning Plan (DLP) has been a bedrock of stability in the learning community since March 12, 2020 when the Government of Sri Lanka closed all schools. The very next day we changed our motto from “Unity in Diversity” to “Unity in Adversity” and came together as a community to support our students. We knew we needed to continue to ensure a sense of belonging and a feeling that everyone is connected during this crisis.

Our DLP also safeguarded our curriculum content and skills development for students in all grade levels – Preschool to Grade 12. Our goal is to provide a smooth transition back to classroom learning F2F, and completion of grade-level expectations.

There are 5 major reasons why the DLP has been a success at OSC -

Clear Policies and Expectations for all Staff

As a leadership team we created our DLP policy and set of expectations so that our community knew what would happen once the school campus closed. It was important to explain that while the campus may be closed, school wasn’t closed, and this was aligned to our mission and vision in creating lifelong learners and students prepared in their global communities. The Policies outlined the schedule the school would use, how the teachers would teach, what we would do and not do during the DLP, and how the school would communicate with parents. We sent this out well before the Government closed, and this gave our stakeholders a sense of security.

n  Caring, Innovative and Invested Teachers

No crisis can be weathered without caring, and loving teachers. Our teachers are our heroes in all of this. They jumped in with new ideas, creative solutions, online videos, projects, themes, websites and interactive games. They were thinking outside the box and this led to our students feeling motivated and our parents expressing relief that they were not alone with their child. Our teachers found new ways to deliver the content, creative collaborative group sharing sessions, and assess our students’ learning. They have become leaders in our DLP.

n  Healthy Parent/School Partnership

It is daunting to think that all of a sudden you as a parent need to supervise your child in the DLP as it is delivered from Preschool to Grade 12. When you have older children, they are somewhat more independent, but we really depend on our parents to be our partners with their younger children at home to ensure that a routine is established, children go to bed a certain time, have their breakfast, and start their DLP at 9 a.m. Our schedule goes until 3:45 p.m., with breaks and lunch in the middle. Our parents help us, feedback to us, let us know what is working, and what is not working and together we support our students with high quality instruction and schedules that allow for some flexibility. After teachers, our parents are our heroes, and they have been communicative, and have come up with great ideas that allow us to change our approach to better suit the needs of our children.

OSC Technology Plan

Our technology team and planning is par none. Every teacher upon employment is given laptops for their home use, and all the technology needed in their classroom. Our students from preschool to Grade 5 are granted a school provided device (Chromebook or iPad) that can be personalized to support their learning in the classroom, and our Grade 6-12 students are required to have a laptop at all times in our 1:1 technology setting. This set-up, designed over the past few years, greatly supported the launch and delivery of the DLP since early March. Our web-based software licenses allowed us to be a streamline institution when we moved to the DLP. Our tech team was ready for remote support for all families and staff.

Valuing and Embracing Ambiguity

One of the most important skills for the 21st century is the one we need to exercise right now, the ability to deal with ambiguity. This skill is part of what being a critical thinker is all about. It is the ability to hold various perspectives in one’s head, understand that there may be more than one way to solve a problem, and there are various justifications for the way people feel about an issue. This is a skill that is explicitly taught at OSC, from our three year old program, up to being a Senior. The fact that we are not tied to one way, or a narrow algorithm on just about anything allows us to move forward in uncertain times. This is what being a resilient OSC is all about, this is a massive feature of our school, and by far, is one of the reasons our community has been especially resilient during this time.

Our plans once normalcy resumes, is to really think about all the lessons that were learned from this experience, and to hold some thought-provoking discussions on the future of education. What worked? What can we learn from this period where we had a new world order for several months? Our ability to come together as a community is, and remains to be very special. Universities are starting to look at “process” over product. With the cancellation of IB exams world-wide, no longer is it good enough to be a rote memorizer and do well on the exams, now you have to show your ability to work in a group setting, to explain your thinking, and demonstrate your process along the way. This is foundational to an OSC experience, and now the universities are in a position to even recognize it more than before.

Our advice for seniors? This is a great time for you to connect with, and reconnect with your family and friends, as we wait for the universities to reopen. Use this time wisely for yourself and your families, be grateful for where you are at this point in life. Think about how these changes you are experiencing as a young adult will change your trajectory and our society’s pathway for the better. This too shall pass, but you will become an integral part of new solutions in a society that is searching for meaning.

Dr. Michelle Kleiss, Head of School – The Overseas School of Colombo



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