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Post-Lockdown & Remote Learning (post-lockdown) - EdTechist
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By now, everything that could possibly be said about teaching in a post-lockdown classroom has probably already been said, but here’s my take on it (this would be a short post if that was it!).

At this point, schools are now 1 month (1 MONTH!) into the 2021-22 school year and with PHA taking over COVID tracking, it’s like COVID doesn’t exist anymore…but how are our classrooms shaping up?

Looking back to lockdown, what has stayed in our classroom? What tools did we use temporarily and what tools have stuck around? Remote teaching is probably one that we have moved away from, but Google classroom? Blended learning? Even elements of the flipped classroom have all stayed around. And it’s the view of this EdTechist that this is a good thing.

 

Blended & Flipped Learning, but still Remote Learning

 

remote learning means spreading out to work effectively

When we look at the benefits of blended learning – specifically the parts that include learning materials being made available to students outside of the classroom, this is undoubtedly a good thing. It helps students to review material that they may not fully understand yet and move towards understanding it. An example of this happened to me over the weekend: I teach in the same post-primary school as my daughter and she came downstairs to discuss a homework I had set (I’m also her ICT teacher). Her question was about layout, but she declared to my wife and I that she understood the topic (flowcharts in programming, but it also gave me a proud teacher moment – they understand it!!).

However, as I explained to my wife – I had put this homework out as a flipped learning homework. We had only started the topic and I had planned to review it when I taught them again (which due to a staff development day, would be four weeks from when I last saw them).

But it worked. Not only had the class worked at understanding it – I also knew from my daughter that one or two didn’t fully understand the homework – which I was equally pleased about as it helps me to focus my lesson on reviewing this content for the whole class. Would this have been possible before lockdown?

 

E-Learning becomes Technology Enhanced Learning

Personally, I am and have been a big supporter and user of this area of learning since completing my Masters degree back in 2007. Then it was called e-learning. Now we call it Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) which I think works a lot easier for non-techies to understand and begin to implement into their own classroom practice. I believe we are at a point where as professionals we can evaluate the tools that we know will enhance our classroom practice and be of real benefit to the learners. We might not always need guidance, but space to experiment, fail, grow, understand and develop what can really enhance our learning, and what is merely window dressing.

The idea of pupils being able to work at their own pace should not be a surprise to teachers. How many of us have watched a video on YouTube but replayed it to focus in on a specific point we may have missed or re-listen to a section that we’re just not fully understanding yet? Why should our pupils be any different – and why shouldn’t we allow them to benefit from being able to replay our presentations? If they are going to sit an exam on any give topic / subject area, then why not allow them the advantage of accessing what you do in the classroom at a later time or date?

I know – because I have repeated it in class many times – that the content I have in a presentation does not always match up with what I am talking about. There may be times that I move off in a tangent to explain or give examples of what I’m talking about – it’s much easier in ICT / Computer Science to show a principle/theory at work rather than just explain how it works. But this might not be in my notes, so when it comes to review my own classroom practice, including those examples automatically improves my content. It will also be of benefit to include pupil examples. In my subject, pupils know that something works, but not how, so the examples they come up with in discussion (mostly around gaming) will be of more relevance to them than many of mine – so why not use this when it comes to making a record of this in a recording or class notes on a learning platform?

 

Online Learning Platforms for Remote Learning

 

remote learning anywhere you are

Another large positive to come out of lockdown is the use of online learning platforms for remote learning. I’m not the biggest fan of Google Classroom – there are parts of it that I really despise, but I can see that for many teachers, it has helped develop their own line teaching and so I have to put my own personal feelings aside because it is about their development, not my own. And if it helps them to teach their classes better then that has to be a good thing that is worthy of supporting.

I suppose my thoughts about Google Classroom, could be explained better by stating it is more widely about Google as a solution. I want a solution that is all encapsulating and reduces my workload. I don’t a platform that requires me to go to three different sites to get a job done: I don’t want to upload a document to Google Drive, then embed it to a Google site and then add it to Google Classroom. I want to complete that task once and free up my time to focus on the learning, not the uploading.

 

New Tools for Remote Learning

 

remote learning at home

With lockdown, there was suddenly the need to think up new ways to teach and deliver learning content in a way not previously considered. Teachers suddenly had the need and the time (well, a little more time than normal – which is little to none) to discover new apps to help their children learn in the makeshift classroom in their homes. Remote learning demanded that we recreate and rethink the wheel.

Many tools we discovered or trialled, weren’t really new tools, but tools that we could repurpose and amend to help us achieve learning goals. The obvious tools like YouTube, Seesaw and Google Classroom were utilised in greater ways, other apps like OneNote, Kahoot!, Duolingo, and Photomath saw a large jump in usage over February 2020 (Kahoot!)

In short, there are a number of ways that our professional lives in the classroom have been improved through lockdown and remote learning. New ways of learning have been implemented and embedded and now are in a position that we can’t return to what existed before. We might all believe and agree that classroom learning is still the best way to ensure pupil learning; however there are other aspects of lockdown teaching that we cannot leave behind us, as they enhance what we do in the classroom and our pupils deserve the best form of education we can produce. And right now, that’s blended learning in the classroom with technological enhancement in real, meaningful and confident ways.

Until next time. MJ

Got something you want to share from your experience in lockdown? Leave it in the comments section!

 

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