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Isle of Man endorses hybrid learning as the way forward following 3 lockdowns

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photo shows castle rushen on the isle of man with boats in the foreground
photo joel smith

Joel Smith, School Improvement Adviser,
Department of Education, Sport and Culture, Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has undergone 3 lockdowns since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and they think hybrid learning is the future of education. In this blog post, their School Improvement Adviser Joel Smith explains why.

We are a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland with around 80,000 people, 32 primary schools, 5 secondary schools and a University College. It has been a particularly difficult time, but we have managed to keep learning going by moving quickly to a remote/distance learning model with the use of itslearning as our primary learning platform island wide.

System overview and context

The key is in the infrastructure and staff training so that usage is consistent across the whole island. When we switched to itslearning in 2015, we also had to make itslearning ‘desirable’ to teachers and communicate its usefulness. What we found particularly useful with itslearning, as opposed to other platforms, is the communication tools that help personalize learning — the pupil to teacher dialogue.

The platform was quite intuitive in the way teachers could give feedback to students and have ongoing discussions about learning, assessment, knowledge and skills acquired. Additionally, it gave us the ability to do planning, and clone and reuse templates which then could be shared with other teachers across the whole school or set of schools. This was particularly useful for us when we went into lockdown because we could then aspire to a consistent model of remote learning to all students across the school network.

itslearning Advocates develop and enhance the use of the LMS in schools, with teachers, for learners.

Looking back, I’m glad we invested resources into a team of ‘itslearning advocates’ — excellent practitioners from across our schools, trained partly by our early adopters and partly by the team from itslearning. We support them with time and resources to then go out and train other teachers, not just at their schools, but also other schools across the Isle of Man. Advocates are a great resource if you are an academy chain, local council or group of schools looking to build a consistent learning model across your institutions.

We pooled their expertise to deliver training across the island which resulted in greater consistency and quality when using the learning platform.

First Lockdown – 24 March – 22 June 2020

This period saw an abrupt pivot to move from face-to-face learning to remote learning. During these 3 months, itslearning really took off in terms of being the platform that was absolutely needed to make sure that we could maintain our statutory duty of providing education. It was a collective effort on the part of our schools.

Second Lockdown – 4 January – 27 January 2021

After the first lockdown ended, island education officials gathered with school leaders to prepare a consistent set of guidance and protocols, in case we had to go into another lockdown. So, when the next lockdown came in January we were prepared. We had processes in place, staff trained on itslearning and templates ready. itslearning kicked into gear and we were delighted with the feedback from pupils and parents about the quality of learning and materials provided during this lockdown.

Third Lockdown – 4 March – 19 April 2021

Our schools were once again ready and the change in school functioning was almost seamless. The use of itslearning rose exponentially, because we had that time to co-plan to determine what we wanted from our remote learning program. Also, both teachers and students were more comfortable using the platform. Out of this third lockdown came the idea that we really shouldn’t forget all the lessons learned during these unprecedented times when we go back to face-to-face school. This is why our plan is to continue and build towards a genuine model for hybrid learning.

image of hybrid learning handbook front cover

Watch the full presentation recording to hear how the Isle of Man has implemented itslearning across primary and secondary education and their hybrid learning provision plan.

You can find more information about how itslearning supports student-driven education and a free handbook on our Hybrid Learning page.

Additional questions after the presentation

What does Hybrid learning look like in your schools in the Isle of Man?

photo heather libreri

Heather Libreri, Teacher, Castle Rushen High School

Hybrid learning in my secondary school as a whole varies. Our itslearning site has been set up by me from a central dashboard with all courses linking off to each year group page.  Staff create one course per subject as one per year group or class can become very overwhelming.

Free Hybrid Learning Guide and resources

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