One of the greatest challenges with moving learning online is trying to create and maintain relationships with and between students. itslearning has enabled me to do this by being the centralized place for my resources and classroom communication. Students can post their ideas, and questions, or participate in a debate and access all my course resources in one place.
At the beginning of the year, I place students in pods. This provides them with a trusted group of 4-5 friends with whom they can discuss sensitive topics, share learning, or clarify misunderstandings. This becomes their home base for both in-class and then online learning when necessary.
Building in group tasks with a low cognitive load like reviewing prior learning or ice breaker activities before entering a Virtual Learning Experience helps build familiarity and comfort with their pod. My students practiced by handing in work as a group through the Group Activity feature in itslearning assignments. This made it second-nature when it came time to submit digital tasks in the Virtual School Experience.
One element of best practice in online teaching and learning that itslearning makes easier is fostering student agency. I learned during the VSE that students appreciate clarity when accessing resources and completing online work. I usually post all my lessons for the week in Page format, which centralizes course resources and activities in a webpage format. By communicating expectations clearly on one page, students were able to work through lessons and assignments at their own pace whether at home or in school.
A powerful tool that does double duty is the Peer and Self-Assessment option available on assignments. This allows for students to track their own progress to standards while building trust in each other. My students can take learning into their own hands and better understand mark schemes when they give feedback to peers.
Another aspect of my regular practice that is made easier by itslearning is timely and individualized feedback. Using the built-in options for Feedback and Discussion on each assignment as well as the comment and review tools available through the integrated Microsoft Office Word software, I can ensure that students receive actionable feedback in the modalities that suit them best. I find that my students are sometimes more motivated to listen to an audio comment than my written ones. I can attach exemplars or resources to help even further.
When I combine this with the Google Chrome browser add-on ProKeys, feedback becomes speedy and time efficient. ProKeys offers a user-friendly text expander that lets you save largish text expansions and associate them with short abbreviations. No more copy and paste for the You need to check spelling and punctuation-type of feedback that you might give to multiple students. Additionally, when I mark assignments within itslearning, my scores and feedback go straight into the assessment record. This provides students, parents and me valuable data on performance during VSE.
Overall, itslearning is a robust tool that works for the Virtual Learning Experience as well as face-to-face instruction. It maximizes efficiency for students and teachers and works on any device.
For more top tips, watch this webinar or read this article on how itslearning works for the teachers at Collège du Léman.
Thank you to @jakerosch for his contributions to this article.
This article was originally published in Nord Anglia Education Connect-ed Newsletter October 2020.
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