Virtual Schooling

It’s 2 months since the British economy and schooling system went into shutdown and longer for other countries in Europe and Asia. There has been uncountable number of articles, video, TV documentaries and analysis carried out on this new trend of “home schooling”, “virtual learning” or “digital transformation”. This is all to say that in a matter of months, the education system has transformed from being an onsite, face to face, classroom-based system to one that is carried at home, virtually over the internet.

While it may seem like this right now, to say that education has become virtual overnight is an insult to all those wonderful teachers and transformational leaders who had the vision over the past 10 – 15 years to create a more resilient system that strives to become ever more inclusive, and ever more accommodating for learners of different standards, abilities and interests.

What today looks like virtual learning and virtual schooling is actually one element of an integrated learning program coming to the fore and becoming visible to all (and for the first time to some). The advances in technology infrastructure has definitely helped in some countries, but in other countries despite the lack of good technology infrastructure, the vision, foresight and perseverance of countless number of teachers and education ministers to integrate technology, however basic, is bearing fruit today.

Some governments like the visionary government of Wales in 2010 created a vision for digital wales, creating a world class technology platform called Hwb that for the first time across the four British nations, and worldwide, created a national education system that integrated digital (online) and physical (offline) education delivery. Considered a world leading initiative by many education experts, the main outcome following almost a decade of use, from today’s perspective is that students & teachers across Wales are far more comfortable and at ease using technology to enhance delivery.

Other governments like the ones of Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America, owing to the limitations of infrastructure have initially embraced digital resources such as Wikipedia, Khan Academy and others. In addition, billions of dollars have been invested or earmarked to upgrade their telecoms infrastructure and to support teachers with an integrated set of digital tools into their onsite delivery of curricula.

So perhaps, instead of calling this the Virtual revolution or digital transformation, it is time to perhaps think of this as an integrated learning system, that works both online and offline.

In my next blog, I shall cover What Integrated Learning could look like for the economies of tomorrow. Until then, stay safe, keep reading and keep learning!

How our imaginary school Elstree Academy keeps educating with LP+365

Elstree Academy has shifted its education to an online-only approach. With LP+365, the Elstree Academy found itself ready for this massive readjustment.

In the first quarter of 2020, schools all over the word were faced with cancellation of classroom-based learning due to the global pandemic. While the decision to close schools has undoubtedly saved lives, it poses an unprecedented disruption for students, as schools scramble to adjust to the new normal.

Fast transition amidst crisis

While our imaginary school Elstree Academy was preparing for total school closure, management was preparing teachers and students to take advantage of digital technology to enhance learning. School leadership had made a series of decisions about platforms, resources like digital textbooks, and the 1:1 use of devices. One such decision was to use LP+365 as the hub for classroom learning.

Microsoft Teams

Teams works well in the classroom, and we had deployed it as part of LP+365 solution across its curriculum long before COVID-19. According to teachers at Elstree Academy, “It was an easy transition. We are already very familiar with Teams, as are my students, so that was all so easy.

Simplicity of setup

Using LP+365 to facilitate a virtual classroom experience has been encouraging. “From the IT side, I love that it manages itself. I set it up every year. To support our registrar, if students need to change classes, all their Teams, class sites and everything will be switched thanks to LP+365 provisioning.” This integrated, simplified setup makes things much easier for both teachers and students.

Parents

Parents are also pleased with the smooth transition from the physical classroom to virtual. According to Elstree Academy’s teachers “Parents are really grateful that we have a system in place and that their children are getting up and they know what to do. They are seeing other teenagers in the neighborhood, who do not have anything to do—they are walking around, they are just hanging out. Our parents are really grateful for what we have in place.”

“With LP+365 we just flipped the switch. We had a schedule, and we had a plan to be online.”

Attendance

Teachers take attendance by looking at the list of those attending the Teams meeting.  If a student is missing, they use the invite to call their cell or call their device and bring them back in, and if they do not respond, they are marked absent. As a policy, the school requires that students leave their cameras on throughout the meeting, so educators can decide to check in on students as the class time progresses.  In addition, they have been using Microsoft Stream to record the sessions.

Microsoft Webinar

In this Microsoft webinar we are thrilled to announce that our CEO Mehool Sanghrajka will be discussing how education technology can enhance education in this ‘new normal’. Mehool commented, “Schools and colleges will not be fully open for months, and whilst many of them have put together a collection of resources, they need to consider their long-term strategies.”

If you missed this webinar and Q&A, you can see it here.

Covid-offer-post

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in thousands of schools being shut and millions of children having their education disrupted. At Learning Possibilities we are keen to support schools during this difficult time, and together with Microsoft are now offering schools free LP+365 licenses until September 2020.

We know many schools have started to look at how they can provide remote learning using an eclectic mix of software for video conferencing, resource distribution and setting assignments. LP+365 works with Microsoft technology to deliver all this and more using an easy to learn dashboard whilst managing all the sensitive data securely.

“At Learning Possibilities we wanted to support schools at this difficult time. We appreciate that teaching and learning remotely is difficult, and many schools were not prepared for this pandemic. Our experience shows that LP+365 helps with both remote learning and parental engagement.   We are delighted to be working with Microsoft to make our platform available for free until September”, said Mehool Sanghrajka, CEO.

The offer for free LP+365 licences is available to schools with Microsoft Office365 tenancy (which is also available free to qualifying schools)  until 1 September 2020.

To learn more about the LP+365 Learning Platform, click here.

To apply for this offer, click here.

Stephen Heppell

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.

Using-LP+365-with-Teams-to-Teach-remotely

LP+365 allows you to Teach from home. Scheduling a video call in Teams is simple, add the invitation to the LP+365 class dashboard and all of your students can access your class remotely. Video calls allow you teach remotely in the same way as you would in the classroom, whether its teaching to the whole class or one to one. Just some of the many useful features include, both Teachers and Students having full access to their LP+365 classroom, the option to turn webcams on and off for privacy, sharing your desktop with your class and recording the class to share later with any absentees.

 

There is a video guide on the LP+365 support site that shows you the simple process of scheduling a video call and sharing it with your class.

Support_Centre

LP+365 support is available to all use directly from with the App. Its packed with useful information to help drive adoption with both Teachers and Students.

The Support Centre includes:

  • A full set of training videos
  • The Teacher Handbook which includes everything there is to know about the App
  • Using LP+365 with Teams to Teach remotely
  • LP+365 Adopt Framework
  • Using LP+365 Offline
  • Webinars
  • Insights from Professor Heppell

New content is added regularly, visit the Support Centre to see more.

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.

3.    Efficacy

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.

4.    Stakeholders

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.

5.    Hurdles

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.

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.

Technical Update

Update

Over the past 6 months, the LP Technical Teams have tirelessly worked on delivering projects for the Asia market.

After market due diligence, it was evident there was a need for a completely new Identity and Access Management protocol to be setup targeting a countrywide deployment.

Using our experience and knowledge of Microsoft products, the system foundations were designed for a countrywide rollout with future enhancements currently at the planning stage. These deployments would allow various technologies that are currently segregated to be consolidated, including the LP+365 Learning and Collaboration platform, using single sign-on.

The overall goal is to ensure the technology enables teachers to deliver education needs effectively!