It’s meant long days, negotiating new platforms and reinventing delivery methods, but local teachers Maree and Amanda agree that learning from home has helped schools harness the potential of digital learning for the 21st century.
How did you prepare for the transition to learning from home?
Maree: The first week of preparations for learning from home were full on and it was a massive learning curve. We did not stop from the moment we got to school. Time was spent learning to negotiate new platforms. and how to voice everything so that online learning didn’t disadvantage any students. We were also learning how to merge content on a single platform. For example; voice, text and drawing. During the preparation week, our staff were amazing, and all had something to offer. For example, Amanda has extensive knowledge around how to manipulate various software and coached our staff through it. It was exciting and inspiring to be able to share our knowledge with one another. Remote learning has enabled us to learn more about digital technology-based teaching.
Amanda: During our preparation week, we planned how to effectively facilitate remote learning across the school. This was because we really wanted to ensure ease of access for all families. We looked at how we could be consistent as a school in what we were delivering. This would mean that families with children across different year levels could use the same platforms, streamlining the process for them.
What is a standard day for you now?
Amanda: We are putting in significant hours behind the scenes for everything to go ‘live’ for the day. We have been working hard on converting our current hard copy resources to digitally engaging resources. This is a time-consuming process.
Maree: Our day starts early to ensure we have the day’s content ready to upload to Google Classroom. The day’s work, including voiced lessons and digitally adapted resources, needs to be sitting in draft form, ready for us to push them out by 8.30am each day. The day then consists of working on the following day/week’s lessons. Plus we spend time connecting with students via Google Meet and answering student/parent enquiries. Then there is responding to student work that has been uploaded throughout the day.
What has been the biggest challenge for you?
Maree: It’s getting what’s in your brain and putting it into an engaging online version because we normally adlib so much in our lessons based on feedback from students.
Amanda: It has been hard differentiating for different groups of learners online. In the classroom, you’re reactive to learners, but when you’re delivering via video you need to pre-empt difficulties or misconceptions the students might have and include explanations of these in your lesson.
What has been most challenging for your students?
Maree: The challenge for the students is not having us immediately to call upon if they want to go through a concept or have a question. Even if we have explained this in a video that we put online, often the students just like the personal contact of one-to-one delivery.
Amanda: Remote learning has proved that our job as teachers is more than just delivering content, it is about nurturing and having a relationship with each student and I think this connection is hard to maintain via an online forum. No matter how hard we try to inject our personalities into our online content, there is a lack of personal touch and connection compared to what we are able to achieve in the classroom.
What have been the benefits of learning from home?
Maree: By producing content for remote learning, we can see some students have benefited from being able to view and re-view concepts or lessons. Students have less distraction and more time to complete their work at their own pace. In terms of improving the outcomes for students, if the school had to close in the future for whatever reason, they know how to access learning online and I am confident there will be minimal disruption to their learning.
Amanda: I think one of the benefits of learning from home is that students are being put in a position where they have to engage with digital technology in a productive way. They actually have to develop digital literacy skills which will assist them immeasurably in the future.
What changes will you make when we return to school-based learning?
Maree: We will be making much more content available for students to access online. We will utilise the schools existing digital platforms to their full potential. We also feel that we have developed a greater capacity to communicate and interact digitally with parents about student progress.
Amanda: We will be more purposeful and directed in our use of technology as well as harnessing the full potential digital technologies can have on our students’ learning.
Overall, how was the experience?
Maree: I would say challenging, interesting and inspiring.
Amanda: Also seeing that your job is dynamic and seeing teaching delivered in a whole different way. You’re looking at teaching through fresh eyes and re-evaluating what you’re trying to put out to the students. It’s been challenging, fun and motivating.
Here‘s some tips on how you can create a supportive learning environment in your home.
Learn more about fostering literacy skills at home.