My previous online learning experience
- Moodle for primary pupils to support face to face learning
- Google Domain for primary pupils to support face to face learning
- Part time Hampshire consultant with a learning platform delivering training for primary staff
What I haven’t done before
Use an online learning tool to replace face to face teaching. Very few online learning advisers would have done this either below college level.
Learning Platform Designed for Education
If you don’t have a platform designed to deliver online learning, then get one. This is the responsibility of the school rather than the individual teacher. Teachers should not be using their own platforms and services to communicate with pupils. Teachers and pupils should be using platforms authorised and setup by their school. See the list at the bottoms for free or almost free services.
Teacher Home Equipment
Wherever possible teachers should use school computing equipment for school online tasks. However, in these unprecedented times this will not always be possible. If teachers use their own home computers, they should
- Use a named account that is password protected so that it can easily be locked when the teacher is away from the device. This is especially important if the device is a shared family device.
- Consider where a computers web cam is pointing, so that, if you are video conferencing or recording video your class doesn’t pick up your family in the background.
- Keep sensitive data such as names and addresses on online school systems and avoid downloading these to your home computer as much as is possible.
- Home broadband is never as good as school broadband. Planning massive video conferences may not be possible especially if most of the population is also at home sharing the bandwidth.
Pupil Home Computing Equipment
If you have enough warning survey parents or pupils to find out
- Do pupils have internet access?
- Do pupils have exclusive use of an internet connected device?
- What type of device is this PC, Laptop, tablet, phone?
- If pupils don’t have exclusive use of an internet device how many hours will they be allowed to use it per day?
- What type of internet device do pupils have access too?
- Does the family have a printer that works and can connect to the device children are using?
Adapting Online Learning to Survey Results
If most pupils in your school share a device with siblings, or parents then setting screen work that can be carried out at different times will be helpful.
If most homes own a printer then providing work that can be printed will remove pupils from the screen and lighten the burden for shared devices.
If most homes don’t have a printer, can you send home an exercise book so pupils can work in there. The screen can be a stimulus or question, but the work can still be done in a book. Most homes will have access to a smartphone with a camera. Can work be photographed and uploaded in this way. Remember children’s typing can seriously limit what can be written by some and increase what can be written by others. There is software that will read web pages and some applications like Microsoft word will read work.
If staff are not confident users of learning platforms, most primary teachers in UK at moment, then start simple. Think about what types of learning can be easily adapted to online learning. If you have spelling shed or Times table Rockstar type resources utilise these and build them into the curriculum. Set a time expectation per day.
Look at resources you have already prepared such as worksheets and use these to start with.
Record Video rather than video conference.
It is nice for pupils to see you and communicate directly but not all pupils will be able to take part due to having to share devices or fitting in with their family. Recording a short video clip is often easier when starting out than video conferencing. Why not set up a school you tube channel. After the videos have been checked they can be uploaded without comments and used in your platform.
Don’t try and do everything in the first week. It is better to start with a few hours of quality provision per day and do this well rather than try to replicate your exciting school-based curriculum in every detail.
Online resources are designed for duplication. If you have multiple classes in the year group prepare resources that can be duplicated and used for all pupils in the Year group.
Agree how much preparation should be done by each teacher in each year group and stick to it. You might want to create tons of extra work for your class alone but if this inequality gets back to parents it will be a source of tension. If you do more, share it with all classes in the year group.
Schools are constantly being fined for small copyright violations. Don’t risk it. Respect creative rights. Teach as if all your resources are being shared via social media but see the section on agreements with parents.
Limit Continuous Direct Screen Time
The younger the pupil the less continuous screen time they should have. See here for advice https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/screen-time-tips-to-support-5-7-year-olds/
Set Agreements with Parents
Ask parents to respect school privacy by not circulating any online learning or video of pupils learning online. Explain that schools have a very strict duty of care to parents who don’t wish to have their children’s work published on the internet. Identify that a sanction might be that they you will withdraw home learning if this is broken.
Be honest about the mountain staff will have to climb and the newness of the task. Make it a requirement of online learning that parents contact the class teacher if they have any concerns. Provide the school email address for this purpose.
Many pupils will often need to do activities with parents
Take this into account when designing activities. Warn parents if they will need to help or if the activity is to be performed independently.
Why not send home rulers, pencils, rubbers etc for pupils who you know are less likely to have these. Pupil premium money could be spent on this.
If you decide to video conference, then choose a platform that records this and keep recordings on the system. Avoid working with a single child online without a parent or guardian also being present. Treat all messaging systems as if you are also communicating with the parent as in many cases you will be. Avoid over familiarity or language that can be misconstrued, be professional at all times.
Learn from the Experience
Is there anything that works well, and you might keep after this emergency is over?
Platforms worth considering
G Suite for Education (Google)
Seesaw (Free for 10 classes) The 10 classes can be easily increased to a larger number if someone trains to be an Ambassador – which, I have been informed, is only an hour or two online.
If I can help you in any way please feel free to contact us.
My thanks to Sue Savory for helping me improve this.