Wednesday the 5th of May was supposed to be my leavers day. We had planned to have a big, celebratory assembly, shirt signing on the field, and a half-day. However, after Boris’ announcement, our last day ended up being a normal school day on which the teachers made no effort to try to teach us anything and the impromptu lunchtime karaoke hardly felt fitting to honour the years that we spent learning, living and laughing at Newstead Wood School.
Once the tears had dried, I found myself sitting at home alternately lamenting and celebrating the sudden end of my GCSE courses. On the one hand, I had put in the work for my mocks and mini-tests so I have a good chance of getting fair grades. I’m also something of a teacher’s pet so I hope they’ll be more inclined to favour me! However, I’m sure there will always be the feeling that I could’ve done better if given the chance to take the exam.
For the two weeks before Easter, my school halfheartedly set work and ‘forgot’ to collect it in. But after the two-week break, they announced that they would no longer be treating us like year 11 students. Instead, they sent us the bridging units they usually send to their incoming year twelve students for the subjects we chose for A-Levels and have more or less left us alone since then! Besides that, I’ve decided to look back at many projects that I have left unfinished over the years: my year 9 textiles skirt, for example, or my book. Also, with the abundance of time and a laptop, I’ve been able to keep myself occupied by exploring the world of online learning.
Several online portals offer what are commonly called MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. Our school challenged us to complete 3 MOOCs in the 5 weeks of this half-term; however, what with all my free time I’ve done 4 and have many more on my waitlist. Some interesting ones I’ve seen are:
- Gender Representation in the Media
- Introduction to British Diplomacy
- Propaganda and Ideology in Everyday Life
- Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Finding Mr X
- Defending Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
MOOC providers usually charge a fee for certification; at the end of the course you can pay a fee, varying from £30 – £50, to receive a certificate of completion. You don’t need to pay this to study the course and you mustn’t feel that you have to do so. This certification is for people who want to have the course on their CV; however, if you are just interested, looking for something more to discuss in interviews or looking to learn a new skill, you can get by just auditing the course.
Some websites that offer free courses are:
|Future Learn||The main hub for online courses from UK universities, run by the Open University.|
|EdX||A hub for online courses from US universities and around the world.|
|Coursera||Courses from universities around the world as well as some museums and tech companies.|
|Harvard University||Harvard has masses of very interesting MOOCs on its site.|
|MyMooc||A useful MOOC search engine|
|Udemy||Mainly technical or professional skills-related courses – most courses require a payment.|
That’s not to say that I’ve been spending all my time being irritatingly studious – I’ve also been binging shows, regularly getting up after 9 and baking cakes for me to eat alone. However, this extraordinary situation has allowed me to see how much time I actually spent on school, and how much time I now have at my disposal. I hope that all of you are making the best of the situation by exploring your interests and preparing for when things begin to get back to normal!