UK House EdTech event at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022
It was an honour to have spoken at the UK House EdTech event at the Commonwealth Games over the summer. The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has been the biggest sporting and cultural event to be staged in the UK for a decade, and it was the largest event ever held in the West Midlands region.
UK House showcased the UK’s expertise to a global audience, driving new partnerships, trade and investment opportunities. With a dedicated day for Education, it was a great opportunity to present our solutions for school recovery after the tremendous learning loss over the past few years.
Watch the full presentation below.
Peter Tabichi Charity Update!
As some of you may remember, last year we held several events fundraising for the Peter Tabichi Foundation, to support the build of new classrooms for students at the Keriko School in Nakuru, Kenya.
We are excited to announce that construction has begun! Last week a location was chosen as the most suitable site for the construction work to take place, along with the installation of a borehole water pump. The water pump will provide access to clean water in the school and help in other areas such as handwashing, catering services, gardening, and provision of water to the local community – water scarcity has been one of the major challenges in the village!
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UK Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, presents Learning Possibilities’ donation to Peter Tabichi Foundation
We are delighted that yesterday, HE Julius Court, the UK Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya visited Brother Peter at Keriko Secondary School in Nakuru, Kenya to hand over a cheque from our fundraising events this year. It was a joyful day, with teachers, students, parents, educators, government leaders and other invited guests present.
“I take this time to thank you for your generous support. We promise to ensure that the funds benefit the children. The classroom project will be kicking off as soon as possible and I will keep you updated. Thank you and be blessed.”
-Brother Peter Tabichi
Once again, we would like to thank everyone who has kindly donated to a truly great cause. In total we raised £10,409 . We look forward to seeing the progress of the classroom build and will keep you updated! The funds will be used towards the development of a classroom block at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School.
“As a social enterprise with a mission to enhance education outcomes, we are delighted that the provision of new classrooms in Keriko will over its lifetime aid thousands of students from deprived backgrounds learn and gain useful employment. We look forward to working with Brother Peter in continuation of the development of the school.” Commented Learning Possibilities CEO, Dr Mehool Sanghrajka
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Peter Tabichi Charity Golf Day
On behalf of Learning Possibilities, Baijul Shah and Rumit Shah, we would like to say a huge thank you to all our players, sponsors and partners for your generosity and support at our first Peter Tabichi Foundation Golf Event! The weather could have been better, but it did not stop us from raising an incredible £9,065 and for that we are thankful!
This event comes at a prominent time where issues have been heightened due to the coronavirus pandemic. The money raised will support Brother Peter’s foundation to build new classrooms for students at the Keriko School in Nakuru, Kenya. This will help hundreds of children over the coming years and bring greater prosperity to the region.
Peter Tabichi is a science teacher and Franciscan Brother who gives away 80% of his monthly income to help those in need. In 2019 Brother Peter won the Global Teacher Prize Award after being recognised for his dedication and hard work ensuring local and underprivileged children gained a proper education.
His village is made up of different tribes and the lives of these children can be tough, especially in a region where drought and famine are frequent. Most pupils come from poor families and almost a third are orphans or only have one parent. Their school, where Brother Peter is a teacher at, is in a very remote area with some children walking up to 7km along roads that become impassable during rainy season.
Brother Peter’s vision is to promote access to quality education through empowering the disadvantaged children in the community. His mission is to embrace opportunities of 21st century education to unlock the potential of these disadvantaged children.
We hope this event will be the first of many in supporting this worthy cause and bettering the education for the children in Nakuru.
Visit the website for further details on the Peter Tabichi Foundation: https://petertabichi.com/
In an aim to reach our £10,000 target, the Learning Possibilities team will be walking 26-miles in one day along the Jurassic Coast on Saturday 28th August – if you would like to sponsor us on this challenge, please visit our page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/vishaal-shah
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LEARNING POSSIBILITIES SUPPORTS THE PETER TABICHI FOUNDATION
We are delighted to announce that this year we will be supporting the Peter Tabichi Foundation as it promotes access to quality education for disadvantaged children in rural Kenya.
Peter Tabichi, a Franciscan Friar and Kenyan science teacher, won the Global Teacher Prize 2019. You can see see Peter’s story here: https://youtu.be/i41XlsaDc-w . Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to host a webinar with Peter, which is available here.
To support the foundation, Learning Possibilities will be hosting a charity golf day and other activities. Details of the Peter Tabichi Foundation are here.
For further details, please contact us at: email@example.com
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Webinar and Q&A : ‘A Learning Platform for the New Normal’
If you missed the Microsoft Webinar today, or simply want to review the contents, then welcome to our blog!
The full webinar can be found here.
During the webinar, we had a number of questions which we have answered below. If you have other questions, please contact us.
Q. Is the LP+365 platform free or paid?
A. LP is a cloud based subscription platform. During COVID19, we are currently offering schools the App for free. (Until September).
Q. How can I install LP+365 in my school?
A. Please visit our COVID offer page or contact us.
Q. Does LP+365 work on all browsers, including tablets and mobiles?
A. Yes, LP+365 works on all devices, including tablets and mobiles and supports modern browsers including Edge, IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari etc.
Q. In remote areas can it be used offline?
A. Yes, LP+365 allows you to synchronise your files, notes, mail, calendars to be used offline. It will re-sync your changes when you are next online. We are currently working to expand this function.
Q. Does LP+365 support my language?
A. The user can select a language for his/her interface at any time from the languages available. If your language is not present, we can usually add it in a short time.
Q. Is this platform appropriate for four to seven-year old children?
A. Yes, the platform is designed to be used by students of all ages. We have seen learners from age 4, all the way to University.
Q. Do we need to sign up individually or through our school admin?
A. LP+365 works with a school’s Office 365 tenancy. The school therefore has to register and the portal will be accessible to all teachers and students at the school.
Q. Is this accessible if you have already your Microsoft account?
A. Yes, as long as the Microsoft account is through your school or college, you can register here.
Q. How can we teach pupils who are living in a far flung places?
A. LP+365 can be used to delivery resources to your class, manage assignments and start collaborative projects. Online classes can also be delivered using the integrated Teams and Skype functions.
Q. Are any certain Office 365 plans required to run this platform?
A. LP+365 works with all Office 365 educational plans, both free and paid.
Q. Is there an in depth demo of LP+365 available?
A. Please see the link to the Microsoft webinar above. In addition, our training videos explain every aspect of the LP+365 platform and can be viewed here.
Q. Can the platform be used for adult students?
A. Yes, the platform can be used by colleges, universities and vocational training colleges.
Q. How is the data submitted online safeguarded and not prone to hacking?
A. All data is encrypted at rest and in transit, using several strong encryption protocols, and technologies that include Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer (TLS/SSL), Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Q. How is Teams integrated within LP+365?
A. Teams in LP+365 offers teachers a virtual staffroom where they can communicate and collaborate. Teams also allows teachers the ability to have online classes.
Q. Can we set different types of assessments/assignments and also choose which students they go to?
A. Yes, the assignment tool allows you to set both formative and summative work, in many different formats, for individual students or the whole class.
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CV3: the ‘New Normal’
This week’s announcement by Cambridge University that it will conduct classes online only for the 2020-21 academic year is significant as it signals the real timelines for this pandemic. Most of us have been living with the hope that by the summer, or September at the latest, we will be back to the ‘old normal’ that we knew at the start of this year. What Cambridge’s announcement does is move this timeline from weeks and months, to years.
The ‘new normal’, as its now widely being called, is a radical departure which will dictate our lives for many years. Until there is a viable treatment for this pandemic, social distancing and face masks/gloves will remain the norm, which means schools and colleges will have to learn to operate in new ways.
I suspect Cambridge’s announcement also took into account the inability for international students (on whom British Universities have built their economic models) to travel to the UK. Just how other industries that will find social distancing difficult (travel, hospitality, retail) will now sustainably operate is still unclear.
In the first of these blogs, I discussed how EdTech may actually benefit from COVID. We have certainly seen a dramatic increase in the number of countries discussing possible platform solutions. The biggest change over the discussions of last 20 years is that everyone now understands the need for ‘elearning’, ‘learning platforms’ and ‘learning from home’.
However, most education technology today has been procured on the basis that its there to support classroom teaching. The new normal requires technology that also supports learning from home. Whilst currently most schools are using a mixture of free tools and resources to continue supporting learning, these will need to be replaced, as I discussed in my second COVID blog, with long term solutions. Focus has therefore shifted to the large platform providers – Microsoft and Google.
In any case, whilst we have the global issues of population growth, environmental destruction and rising temperatures; as well as the social issues of growing human inequality, inhumane farming methods and regional conflicts, it seems to be very possible that such pandemics will also sadly become the norm.
As schools choose to open over the next few months, I think there are already some indicators of the direction we all need to take. I have listed my five below;
1. Firstly, schools will have to develop hybrid models for many months or even years. A combination of learn at home with some face-to-face teaching.
2. Secondly, this means that teachers will need support to become more familiar with technology, and in teaching learners remotely.
3. Thirdly digital skills will become even more critical; not just for learning from home, but in the new economy where working from home will also become the norm.
4. Fourth our exam systems, which were the first casualty, early in this pandemic, are unlikely to survive the pandemic and will need to be reevaluated.
5. Lastly, focus in education will move towards platforms, content, devices and connectivity as governments consider how to support all their learners.
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Work at home, working from home
Our chairman, professor Stephen Heppell shares best practices on helping you make your home working space the very best it can be to keep you bright, engaged, clever and productive. click here to read Stephens post on working from home and click here to read his post on online working.
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CV2: School is closed. Now what…?
Another week of the COVID 19 virus has passed and for many teachers, and employees, remote teaching/working is now a reality, and likely to stay for the long(er) term.
Many schools and universities are desperately applying ‘sticking plaster’ to their hastily compiled remote learning strategies with a mixture of free digital services and content. Whilst this may do the job until schools reopen, the #CoronaVirus should be a wakeup call as it continues to demonstrate our vulnerabilities.
Once schools return, many Heads will start looking at long term solutions. Whilst there are many free digital solutions on the market (#Microsoft #Office365, #Google #Classroom etc.), there is a need in schools for wider considerations.
It thought it would be useful to list my top five below.
1. Data Security
Security of learner data is paramount, regardless of the solution. Wherever your data come from (SIS, MIS, LIS, spreadsheets, databases etc), it needs to work seamlessly with your digital platforms, providing learners with correct access to classes and the right user privileges. Equally important is where your platform data is stored. Do you know who has access to it? Can it be used by others for marketing or advertising? Does it meet legal and other security requirements?
2. Which platform should I choose?
There are many digital platforms, it is important to pick the right one. Distance teaching and learning is one of many potential uses. Content management, assignments, collaborative projects, testing and communications are some of the many functions of a good integrated platform. It should also consider local needs with multiple languages, interfaces for different ages, strategies for poor connectivity (or offline learning) and ease of use for the teacher. It’s important to build CPD strategies and develop areas that are important to your school and appropriate for your infrastructure.
Until the Corona Virus outbreak shut schools, remote teaching (in most schools) had been largely a theoretical phenomenon. Schools saw clear benefits in learners accessing work from home, submitting assignments or contributing to projects, but these were largely supplemental to the work that happened in class. A good solution must have proven efficacy, be easy to use and give the teacher a range of tools to suit different teaching styles. This will encourage both platform adoption and skilling-up for teachers.
Apart from the teachers and learners, there are many other important stakeholders. Direction from the leadership is critical for any digital project to succeed, let alone one that needs fundamental change management. This should be at government, regional and school level. Equally important is the training and support teachers receive, as well as the availability of devices and connectivity.
In my experience, all digital projects face similar hurdles. Policy funding is usually critical, as it an understanding of ongoing funding requirements. Likewise there has always been unjustified fear that technology will replace teachers.
At this time, many schools are focused on completing the academic year with whatever resources and platforms they can use. That is important. But in the longer term, a clear strategy and plan will be invaluable.
The author is Founder and CEO of #EdTech business Learning Possibilities which provides the #LP+365 platform. Please contact us if you need advice, help or support.
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CV1: Is there a silver edu-lining to the Corona Virus?
Italy’s announcement to close its schools won’t be the last. Schools in other countries are also closed as the virus gets a firm grip on everything from travel to sport to medicine supply.
Coronavirus: Italy to close all schools as deaths rise
Over the past two decades education reformists have had visions of self paced learning, online collaboration and enabling meaningful learning outside school. All attempts so far have struggled because the exam systems rarely look for these skills and teaching to the test is still the norm in many parts of the world.
It is well known that digital both engages learners and provides skills necessary for employment. However connectivity, devices and classroom management all pose real world challenges.
This vision will now have to finally become a reality. The virus is here to stay, and schools will have to quickly learn to distribute resources, teach and manage online assignments, and collaborate/communicate digitally. Whether this is through free tools provided by Google and Microsoft, or more structured platforms such as LP+365, the reality is that schools will have to become like workplaces, many of whom have also asked employees to work from home.
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