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International Schools Embracing Technology for Blended and Remote Learning

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Andrew Draper, Guest Writer

International schools are embracing technology which enables remote learning and blended learning (also known as distance learning and hybrid learning). COVID-19 has disrupted physical learning and experts believe blended or remote learning in schools (K-12 level) will be here for the long term.

During the coronavirus pandemic, students everywhere have experienced disruption to physical learning environments. Access to teaching materials, teachers and classmates is more difficult. Learners also suffered a break in progression, which may affect future exam results.

itslearning believes that when schools reopen, teachers will incorporate blended learning into their teaching, but there will be more one-to-one learning with specific help when needed.

The itslearning platform experienced a 300% increase in use in March as a result of lockdown. The mobile app has had a million installations since then. Analysts projects that the overall market for online education will reach $350 billion by 2025.

Teachers expect more use of technology

A global survey of 500 educators by Microsoft Education in July found that 61% expect the next school year to start with hybrid learning; 87% think they will use more technology.

Educational experts think changes caused by the COVID-19 outbreak are here to stay. Roger Blamire, a senior adviser at the European Schoolnet, a network of 34 European education ministries, argues the crisis has been ‘a wake-up call’ for the organisation of the education system. It has shown what can be done with technology, but also highlighted what only face-to-face interaction can do.

Technology helps schools continue to deliver education

Geneva-based international school Collège du Léman (CDL) uses itslearning to plan courses, share digital resources, track assessments and communicate with learners, parents and colleagues.

Moving to remote learning at the start of lockdown posed several challenges. Lesson starts had to be standardised, while students needed to be engaged, enthusiastic and active learners. Documenting lessons and monitoring progress was also of great importance.

Jacob Rosch, Head of Educational Technology at CDL, says he uses the Plans feature to create ‘playlists’ of different activities and resources for students, e.g. YouTube videos, Google docs and collaboration projects. Quizzes test what they learn. “In order to keep students engaged, collaboration is key,” he says.

Sports science teacher Tom Moores says testing learners’ understanding remotely is more difficult. Students’ body language and eye contact are missing.

But student submissions allow assessment of what they understand. This increases student engagement when they know a teacher or a peer will look at their work.

He says: “Peer assessment allows interaction that is often missing from the virtual school environment.” Teachers can oversee any interaction and assessment records present graphs with visual trends and patterns in student performance.

English teacher Aimée Skidmore uses the Pages feature to collect assignments and resources in one place. “What I like about Pages is that it’s one place for students to find all assignments and tasks with clear instructions and resources.”

That is useful when students are uncertain about what is going on with the health crisis and do not feel much control.

Students must navigate courses and maintain relationships with teachers and each other. Allowing students a voice in planning contributes to their well-being and mental health, says Aimée.

The overall value of the itslearning system to this international school is that it is where everything starts and finishes. This is even if other educational or technological tools are used. Jacob wants it to stay that way.

He says even after classroom learning restarts, CDL wants students, teachers and parents to say “It’s on itslearning”.

experiences with the blended and remote learning approaches at Collège du Léman – International School

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