The coronavirus outbreak has blindsided the world. Every country, industry and organisation has needed to quickly evolve to prevent the spread of the virus and keep people safe. The impact has been devastating, but particularly for the educational services. Experts are now worried that a whole generation will have had their learning disrupted at a fundamental point in their developmental growth.
Though many schools have opened their doors to pupils again, it does not look like they will be returning to normal anytime soon, with a second wave of the virus fast approaching. And so, the responsibility has fallen onto the leaders of education. The pressure is on them to quickly adapt their organisations, so that we can mitigate the impact of coronavirus on school children’s growth.
Thankfully, people have already begun developing effective digital solutions, helping school leaders to adapt to the pandemic. So, let’s look at what different strategies schools can implement into their organisations, helping them to swiftly adjust to the coronavirus outbreak and the new challenges it has presented.
Take Advice from Experts
First things first, school leaders and all key stakeholders need to focus on shaping their digital strategies and agreeing their priorities. After all, how can you expect to introduce a solution successfully without a bigger view of what you are trying to achieve overall? Often this involves seeking external input and support from experienced leaders and practitioners in EdTech like Al Kingsley.
He is the group MD of NetSupport, who created a cloud-based classroom management and teaching platform, Classroom.Cloud. Kingsley himself has 30 years experience in the tech sector – earned through his work with NetSupport and other companies such as Unilever. He has also gained 15 years of experience in education through serving as the Chair of 3 MATs, and advising on the board of several local authority panels.
With his specialist knowledge of digital strategy for educational organisations, schools could potentially get a great steer on shaping their digital strategy through a discussion with him. You can find more information here if you would like to see the latest remote learning innovation his team have been developing for schools..
Changing the Timetable
The digital learning landscape is vastly different from the one we are used to. This means the traditional format of hour-long lessons and six-hour school days may have to be reconsidered in terms of content and delivery. Therefore, leaders might need to change how they structure the students’ timetables. For example, would an hour-long video call be a practical way to cover all the lesson’s content effectively? Or conversely would this be too long, leading some students to become distracted or lose focus ? School leaders should evaluate and adapt lesson content and delivery to match what format works best.
Altering the Delivery
When students learn in the classroom, they learn differently to the way they learn at home. After all, their home has unique distractions, and they’re not sitting in a space where they’re used to learning. So, teachers need to adjust the way that they deliver their lessons to optimise
Many are discussing the Blended approach to remote learning; in other words, the mix between realtime Face to Face teaching ( albeit via a webcam) and the time spent by a student doing self-study. The blend of live lessons, pre-recorded content, self study and digital assessments with quick digital feedback makes up some of the key parts of the blended lesson. This approach can help teachers to deliver the support that their students need, but it requires the right EdTech tools.
Utilise EdTech Software Effectively
If you want to quickly transition to Remote Teaching and Learning without impacting on the quality of the education your organisation is delivering, then it’s worth reviewing your edtech solutions as part of a digital strategy. There has been a huge expansion in the tools and approaches for delivering education online in recent months and plenty of best practice being shared
As we mentioned before, there are solutions like Cloud.Classroom for teachers to take advantage of. This EdTech helps educators to engage with and remotely monitor their student’s screens, allowing them to track their progress, check who they’re collaborating with, and highlight if they need help.
What’s more, this software can be used to manage the online behaviour of your students, preventing them from accessing restricted websites during lesson time. Cloud.Classroom allows teachers to make contact and initiate a conversation with their students, too. This is incredibly important during the pandemic, for reasons we’ll discuss later in the article. By using EdTech software, you can smoothly transition to remote learning without also compromising on the quality of the education you’re delivering.
Use Online Resources
One of the main problems with remote learning is that schoolchildren can’t access all the resources they would normally have, such as activity books and the library. This has been a major problem for schools who might want to include these resources within their subject topics. However, there are online resources which can help with this. For example, Oak Academy, or BBC Bitesize have become an invaluable tool during the pandemic. The websites have been delivering new school lessons every day whilst also providing an array of online activities (related to the subject) which the students can complete. This online resource has provided educators with a brilliant way to ensure their pupils are still engaging with the materials learnt in the lesson.
BBC Bitesize isn’t the only website teachers can use, though. MyMaths has been particularly beneficial for eLearning, helping educators to set tasks for their students remotely and providing them with activities for different modules. Teachers can also see how well their students have done in these tasks, helping them to monitor progress and provide assistance where needed.
How well your students perform very much depends on the teacher’s presence. Without someone overseeing, young children and adults are far more likely to slack off. This has become particularly important with remote education. If leaders want to ensure they have effectively adapted to remote learning, they need to ensure their staff are engaged with the students throughout their remote lessons. A strong sense of their digital presence should keep them focused and motivated.
As we mentioned before, your teachers need to maintain a dialogue with their students for digital learning to be a success. This also further establishes a teaching presence. But what exactly do we mean by a student-teacher dialogue? Well, for starters, they should deliver instructions and guidance clearly, so pupils know what to do and how to do it on the digital platform.
Next, teachers need to question and listen to their students, making sure they have a solid understanding of the learning material. Assessing, advising and reprimanding the schoolchildren (if necessary) is important, too. Your teachers should always stay on the ball with the student-teacher dialogue, but especially now education is being provided remotely.
School isn’t just about academia. It’s also about providing the students with a sense of community and teaching them life lessons. Unfortunately, the pandemic has threatened that aspect of schooling. That’s school leaders need to go out of their way to provide their pupils with a feeling of community and belonging. This could include holding virtual assemblies and morning messages. Meanwhile, some teachers have created light-hearted videos for amusing the kids. Virtual postcards from the school to the families have been effective, too. It’s also important to give your students some time to socialise with their peers, even if this must be done remotely. Breakout rooms where pupils work together on projects are an example of this.
Fortunately for everyone, education is about sharing and advice like the above and more is being shared between schools and leaders so that they can quickly adjust to the new challenges faced.